Histories of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station


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, an essential piece of this industrious new sewerage system, played a vital role in improving the public health in late 19th century Boston .

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 represented an impetus for the continued growth and development of Boston as an urban center. Today, the abandoned Calf Pasture Pumping station is 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 was once the most prominent structure on Columbia Point; 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 new development.

This blog is dedicated to the histories and legacy of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station and hopes 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.

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