Located on the Columbia Point Peninsula in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the Calf Pasture Pumping Station is what remains of the first comprehensive sewerage project in the city of Boston. First conceptualized in 1875 and completed in 1884, the Boston Main Drainage System was the first extensive and successful sewerage project in the city’s history. The Calf Pasture Pumping Station, as an essential piece of this industrious new sewerage system, played a vital role in improving the public health of the city of Boston during the late 19th century. The construction of the Main Drainage System not only revolutionized the way in which the thickly populated city managed the removal of its waste but also stood as an impetus for the further development of Boston into a thriving urban center in the United States. Today, the abandoned Calf Pasture Pumping station stands as a reminder of the innovation and engineering that characterized the public health initiatives of America’s urban and industrial revolutions of the 19th century.
The pumping station once stood as the most prominent structure on Columbia Point but today it shares the peninsula with many large and influential institutions, the University of Massachusetts, Boston, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, and the Massachusetts State Archives. UMass Boston purchased the historic structure from the city in 2012, but for now the handsome building sits as though frozen in time, surrounded by rapid paced modern development.
This blog is dedicated to the histories and legacy of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station and to also to answer questions of how the story of the pumping station connects to the wider themes of labor and activism that so strongly defined American life during the industrial age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This blog also explores the future possibilities of the impressive but neglected structure’s preservation and use today.
The Calf Pasture Pumping Station Complex, which ceased operations in 1968, was added to the National Historic Register in 1990.