BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It soars 235 feet and was built in less than six months. And back in the day it produced lead shot for weapons. But what’s the future of Baltimore’s famous Shot Tower?

Ron Matz reports on the effort to restore and reopen one of Baltimore’s best known landmarks.

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It was built with 1 million bricks in 1828. At the time, the Shot Tower was the tallest building in the United States. Today the tower needs repairs. Carroll Museums is the caretaker.

“We are spearheading the project to restore the tower. The city has our back. They’re helping us with infrastructure and other things that we need to facilitate the preservation of this city landmark,” said Paula Hankins, executive director of Carroll Museums.

“The Phoenix Shot Tower is a historic, cultural and a community icon. It actually serves as the gateway to Baltimore City. The best way to insure the future of our monuments is to form a partnership between private foundations and local government,” said Andy Naden, president of Carroll Museums.

The Phoenix Challenge is raising money to restore and reopen this Baltimore icon.

“Our goal for the Shot Tower is to renew, restore and reopen. The tower is in fairly good condition, but it needs at least a half million dollars in restoration. It needs re-pointing, it needs new electric and the stairs need to be upgraded. We want people to be able to climb to the top of the tower, all 315 steps. The very top has one of the best views in Baltimore,” Hankins said.

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The city recently commissioned a marketing survey to determine the best use of 15 landmark properties, including the Shot Tower, raising the possibility of a sale.

“Whoever does get involved, whether we continue to be the steward or someone else, the most important aspect is there is a private-public partnership,” Naden said. “Nobody can do this alone. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. That’s why we’re excited about the city’s marketing study.”

“Carroll Museums is actively working with the Department of General Services to upgrade the building, to keep it safe and open for the public. We hope to allow residents and tourists alike to climb to the top of the tower, experience the history of the monument and enjoy the best possible view of our city,” Naden added.

It’s a towering presence in Baltimore, hopefully for generations to come.

“The tower is a quintessential Baltimore story. It was built with Baltimore bricks, built by Baltimore folks in 190 days. It was one of the first preservation battles fought in 1924,” Hankins said.

“It’s a sense of history. It’s something we cling to as a community. We’re losing a lot of icons. We shut down Memorial Stadium. This is, in our opinion, the gateway to Baltimore City,” Naden said.

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The Shot Tower was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1972. Thursday night there will be a fundraiser for the Shot Tower at City Life Museums. For more information, just click here.