Metropolitan Waterworks Museum

Metropolitan Waterworks Museum

High Service Pump StationA.M. Vinal, 1886-87

Wheelwright and Haven, addition, 1897-98

Low Service Pump StationShepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, 1899

Gund Partnership, renovation and adaptive reuse of complex, 2008

National Register of Historic Places

Boston Landmark

Preservation Achievement Award, 2011

The Chestnut Hill Waterworks is recognized as the finest and most intact 19th century water system in the country, noted for the quality of its architecture, engineering, landscape design, and urban planning. The Bradlee Basin of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir was completed in 1870. The reservoir and pumping stations served the citizens of Boston for more than eight decades and were a great source of civic pride. The area around the reservoir was the city's first large pastoral park complemented by a carriage road and greenway designed by the Olmsted brothers.

In the 1970s the buildings were taken out of regular service and fell into disuse. The pump stations and their contents were designated in 1998 as one of the state's 10 most endangered historic resources by Preservation Massachusetts. The Gund Partnership's 2008 project involved the adaptive reuse of the two landmark public works buildings and their adjacent carriage house to create new residential units, while maintaining historic facades and converting the historic pumping station into a museum.

The massive brick Richardsonian Romanesque High Service Pump Station is an 1887 design by Arthur Vinal, with an 1898 addition by Wheelwright & Haven. Gund's 2008 project transferred the former administrative wing to four condominiums, while establishing The Waterworks Museum in the great hall with the three historic steam pumps that first supplied the City of Boston with clean, reliable drinking water. Open and free to the public, the museum's exhibits focused on engineering, architecture, social history, and public health. A modern two-story glass function room offers dramatic views to the historic pumps and architecture, while complementing the industrial character of the machinery.

The nearby Beaux Arts classical building is "Whitehall," designed in 1899 by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge. Originally the Low Service Pump Station, it was converted to twenty unique condominiums with related functions. Minimal windows on the northeast wing of this building were not adequate for residences. Because the historic facade could not be altered, a new structure was placed within this wing, creating an interior courtyard between the historic facade and the new structure and allowing for light-filled spaces in the new units. Responding to New England vernacular, unfinished cedar siding was selected for the new facade. Expansive windows provide views to the private courtyard and the reservoir beyond.

"Waterford," the former Operations building, sits between the two pump stations and originally functioned as a carriage house serving the two stations. This was converted into seven residences, with a second floor added to double its size.

See to learn more, including hours of operation.

Source: Gund Associates