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After the French and Indian War began in earnest, the cache of arms and ammunition stored at the Magazine on Market Square grew so large and valuable that more security was in order. The Virginia colony built a high wall around the octagonal repository and, just a few yards to the east, a Guardhouse.

A typical story-and-a-half brick building, the Guardhouse contained a small, brick-paved room for the shelter and convenience of the sentries – much as the reconstructed exhibit does today. The original building and the wall were pulled down in the 19th century, but both have been rebuilt with the aid of archaeology, watercolor sketches, and a wood engraving.

Williamsburg moved its fire engine to Market Square in 1756, and a replica of a 1750 Newsham model is now stored in a lean-to beside the Guardhouse's west wall.

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