Calf Pasture Pumping Station

This timeline covers the events relevant to the history of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station, and the surrounding area of Columbia Point in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The timeline includes information regarding Boston public works history, particularly the sewer works.

Calf Pasture Pumping Station History

Boston Water Contamination Study

1875 - 1876

In 1875, a study initiated to research pollution and water contamination causing health issues including cholera, typhoid and dysentery in the city of Boston. This study leads to the construction of the Boston Main Drainage System (BMDS) Construction of the BMDS took place from 1877-1884, and included 25 miles of intercepting sewers, Calf Pasture pumping station in Dorchester, Dorchester Bay Tunnel, and outfall pipe at Moon Island in Boston Harbor.

Construction of the Boston Main Drainage System

1877 - 1884

Construction of the BMDS included 25 miles of intercepting sewers, the Calf Pasture Pumping Station in Dorchester, the Dorchester Bay Tunnel, and the reservoirs and outfall pipe at Moon Island in Boston Harbor.

Construction of Calf Pasture Pumping Station begins

1879 - 1884

In 1879, landfilling and construction for the pumping station on Calf Pasture begins, overseen by Boston city architect, George Albert Clough. At this time, facilities are also built to enable coal ships to dock close to the pumping station. The dock is dredged, stone seawalls constructed, a wharf built in front of one seawall, and a long pier is built out to protect the sewer running out from the pumping station. Interestingly, a tornado causes $1,000 worth of damage to construction site in 1879.

Calf Pasture Pumping Station opens

January 1, 1884

The Calf Pasture Pumping Station officially begins pumping on New Years Day, 1884.

Metropolitan Sewerage System formed


In 1889, the Metropolitan Sewerage System (MSS) is formed in order to address areas of Boston lying outside of the service area of BMDS.

Metropolitan District Commission created


In 1919, the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) is created to oversee the Metropolitan Sewerage System (MSS). This department is now the DCR. The Boston Main Drainage System remains under the ownership of the city of Boston.

Calf Pasture Pumping Station Changes from Steam to Electric Power


In 1940, the original Leavitt and Worthington pumps in the Calf Pasture Pumping Station are dismantled and removed, due to a crack in one of them. With the removal of these pumps, the system changed from steam to electric power.

Roof of Coal Room in Calf Pasture Pumping Station Caves In


In 1946, the coal room roof collapses, and this section of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station is demolished because it is no longer needed. No coal was being stored anymore due to the recent switch from steam to electric power.

Nut Island Treatment Facility Opens


In 1952, the sewage treatment facility on Nut Island in Quincy, Massachusetts opens. This is the first facility which actually treats the sewage, rather than simply releasing untreated sewage.

Deer Island Treatment Facility Opens


In 1968, the Deer Island Treatment Plant opens. This facility has since been updated, but still serves as the treatment facility for the Greater Boston area's sewage. The facility is located on Deer Island in Boston Harbor, and can be seen from the Columbia Point peninsula.

Calf Pasture Pumping Station Closes


In 1968, the Calf Pasture Pumping Station ceases to serve as the center of Boston's sewage pumping and transportation. The facility, however, is maintained for a few years as a backup for the Deer Island Plant during wet weather.

A Proposal for Repurposing the Calf Pasture Pumping Station is Put Forward


In 1975 a repurposing plan entitled “The Pumphouse: A Proposal to Recycle the Calf Pasture Pumping Station at Columbia Point as a Community/University Center” is published. The plan never goes through.

Ownership & Responsibility of Boston's Sewer System Transferred


In 19776, ownership and operating responsibility for the sewer system is transferred from the City of Boston to the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC). This means the BWSC owned the abandoned Calf Pasture Pumping Station.

Massachusetts Water Resource Authority Created and Boston Harbor Clean-Up Begins


After a lawsuit against the Metropolitan District Commission, it is determined that Boston Harbor is being heavily polluted by sewage disposal practices. The possession, control, and operation of MDC Water and Sewage Divisions is granted to the newly created Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The MWRA oversees the clean-up of Boston Harbor, and improvement of sewage treatment facilities and practices.

Calf Pasture Pumping Station Receives Designation as Historic Site


In 1990, the Calf Pasture Pumping Station building receives National Register of Historic Places designation.

Calf Pasture Pumping Station Included on Tourism Brouchure


In 1995, Dorchester residents create a tourism brochure to educate visitors of interesting local spots. This brochure includes the Calf Pasture Pumping Station.

The Calf Pasture Pumping Station May Be Reused


In 2007, Historic Boston Inc. tells the Globe that they are preparing a “reuse feasibility study” on the building.

UMass Boston acquires the Calf Pasture Pumping Station


In 2011, UMass Boston acquires the Calf Pasture Pumping Station in exchange for $2.1 million in scholarships for Boston Public School students. Obsolete electrical transformers are removed from the building, new fencing is installed around the structure, and debris, trees, and shrubs are taken out.

From Calf Pasture to Columbia Point - Developments

These events, identified in red, indicate a development in the area where the Calf Pasture Pumping Station is located (they may not directly concern the pumping station itself but are nonetheless important and relevant). This area was known as Calf Pasture, and later became known as Columbia Point. Columbia Point is the current place-name for the peninsula.

Landfilling and Developments on the Calf Pasture peninsula

1880 - 1930

Beginning in the 1880's, landfilling of the Calf Pasture peninsula is started. Over the span of several decades, many acres of land are added to the original fourteen to create the much larger peninsula seen today. Landfilling during these decades created Columbus Park, Day Boulevard, Morrissey Boulevard, and the land between Calf Pasture and the Dorchester neighborhood of Savin Hill.

Harbor Point Complex Built


In 1953, the Harbor Point Complex is built on the Calf Pasture peninsula. It is one of America's first public housing projects.

Construction of University of Massachusett Boston begins


In 1971, construction of University of Massachusetts Boston begins on Columbia Point.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum Opens


In 1979, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum is formally dedicated and opened on Columbia Point.

Massachusetts Archives Building Opens


In 1985, the Massachusetts Archive building is constructed on Columbia Point.