On June 26, 1937, the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam was officially dedicated after three years of construction. The architecture of the dam is utilitarian with few architectural details. The operations building featured an understated modern style, including minimized engaged Doric pilasters and a smooth tapered design. The tapered design can also be seen in the piers of the dam separating the five lift gates.
The lock and dam was constructed to make commercial navigation of the river easier. Even after the lock opened, demand for its services never arrived. Traffic peaked in the 1960s, as railroads and highways replaced rivers for business transportation. Commercial navigation of the lock stopped in 1979.