The United States Arsenal was established by the then U.S. President George Washington on a site adjacent to the Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia in 1819. It was operated by the U.S. Army.
Due to its unhealthy location of frequent fevers and subsequent deaths occurring among the soldiers and their families, the government eventually decided to relocate the facility to Summerville during the late 1820s. In November 1826, a tract of approximately 70 acres on a hilltop site was purchased for the relocation purpose by the Arsenal's first commander Captain Matthew M. Payne, from Freeman Walker.
With $49,000 and some building materials from the original arsenal, four buildings connected by a loop-holed wall were constructed, making up the present quadrangle. The building was completed in 1828 and served as a part of the U.S. military establishment.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, the Arsenal was turned over to the Confederacy and remained in the possession until the end of the war when it was returned to the federal government. In 1861, a 500-foot long, production-shop building was constructed near the eastern boundary of the post, which served a variety of functions during that war. The Augusta Arsenal remained in operation throughout the course of both world wars and the Korean War until it closed in 1955.
In 1957, the property was transferred to the Junior College of Augusta, which later became Augusta State University. All of the structures presently serve as administrative facilities for the University - a unit of the University System of Georgia. Today, the oldest standing building on the site is a small Sand Hills dwelling named Bellevue Cottage.