Calf Pasture Pumping Station Timeline


  • A study  is launched to research Boston’s pollution and water contamination problems believed to be causing the city’s high death rates.


  • Boston Mayor Henry L. Pierce appoints a commission of experts to engineer a plan for Boston’s sewage. One of these experts was Ellis S. Chesbrough, Boston’s first city engineer (1851-1855) who later went on to gain prestige as the engineer behind Chicago’s industrious sewage system.


  • Construction of Boston Main Drainage System begins.


  • Overseen by architect, George Albert Clough, landfilling and construction for pumping station begins on Calf Pasture peninsula.
  • Docks constructed for coal ships to off load at the end of the original Calf Pasture. The dock was dredged, stone seawalls constructed, wharf built in front of one seawall; long pier built out to protect  and support sewer running out from pumping station.
  • Tornado causes $1,000 worth of damage to construction site (1)


  • Calf Pasture Pumping Station completed


  • Station officially begins pumping on New Year’s Day


  • Metropolitan Sewerage System (MSS) formed to address parts of Boston lying outside of the service area of BMDS


  • Filling in area of Calf Pasture – created Columbus Park; Day Boulevard; Morrissey Boulevard, between Calf Pasture and Savin Hill; across mouth of Savin Hall Bay (maps)


  • Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) created to oversee the MSS (now DCR); Boston Main Drainage System still owned by the city


  • Leavitt and Worthington pumps in Calf Pasture Pumping Station dismantled and removed (due to a crack in one of them) à System changed from steam to electric power


  • Coal room roof collapses, section is demolished because it is no longer needed (no coal was being stored anymore due to the switch to electricity).


  • Columbia Point housing project built as one of nation’s first public housing projects


  • Nut Island Wastewater Treatment Plant opens


  • Deer Island Treatment Plant opens
  • Calf Pasture Pumping Station closes – maintained as a backup for the Deer Island Plant during wet weather



  • “The Pumphouse: A Proposal to Recycle the Calf Pasture Pumping Station at Columbia Point as a Community/University Center” is published


  • Ownership and operating responsibility for sewer system transferred from the City of Boston to the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC)



  • Possession, control and operation of MDC Water and Sewage Divisions granted to Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)


  • Massachusetts Archive building constructed on Columbia Point


  • Calf Pasture Pumping Station building receives National Register of Historic Places designation


  • Dorchester residents create a tourism brochure to educate visitors of interesting local spots, includes the Calf Pasture Pumping Station


  • Historic Boston Inc. tells the Boston Globe that the organization is preparing a “reuse feasibility study” on the building


  • UMass Boston acquires Calf Pasture Pumping Station – in exchange for $2.1 million in scholarships for Boston Public School students
  • Obsolete electrical transformers were removed from the building, new fencing installed, and debris, trees, and shrubs taken out
Sources Consulted:
1.  Clark, Eliot C. Main Drainage Works of the City of Boston. Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1885.

2.  Kennison, Karl R. “Sewage Works Development in the Massachusetts Metropolitan District.” Sewage and Industrial Wastes 22.4 (1950): 477-89. JSTOR. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

3.  Marwell, Stuart. Calf Pasture Pumping Station. N.p.: n.p.

4.  National Register of Historic Places, Calf Pasture Pumping Station Complex.

5.  Roessner, Jane. A Decent Place to Live: From Columbia Point to Harbor Point: A Community History. Boston: Northeastern UP, 2000.

6.  Taylor, Earl. “Calf Pasture Pumping Station.” Dorchester Atheneum.


1. “Sudden Destruction: A Terrible Tornado Along the Whole Atlantic Coast.” The Washington Post, 08/20/1879.

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