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mwm1Updated May 9: Sold out. Join us on May 22 for a behind the scenes tour of the Waterworks Museum, hosted by the Director of Operations Eric Peterson.  History enthusiasts, steam geeks, and architecture buffs will gain a unique perspective on the buildings, collections, and neighborhood that make up the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum campus. Open since 2011, the Waterworks Museum now interprets Boston’s water engineering legacy, incorporating the themes of engineering, architecture, social history, and public health.

Tucked into the intersection of the Brookline, Chestnut Hill, and Cleveland Circle neighborhoods sits an architecturally and historically significant Boston landmark. The Chestnut Hill High Service Pumping Station served as the hub of a sophisticated metropolitan water supply system for nearly a century. Although clean drinking water was first delivered into the heart of the Hub in the 1840’s, an unprecedented period of urban growth in the 1870’s and 1880’s forced city engineers to develop a complex network of reservoirs and aqueducts to meet the demands of its new residents. Built in 1887, the Chestnut Hill Pumping Station directed water from the adjacent Reservoir and other sources to newly annexed communities at a rate of nearly 100 million gallons a day.

Not only was it the most technologically advanced water facility of its time, utilizing a series of enormous, still intact, coal-fired steam engines to push water out to new homes and businesses, the Chestnut Hill Pumping Station also maintained the nation’s very first water quality testing facility. To identify and combat deadly water-borne illnesses, George C. Whipple, sanitation engineer and co-founder of the Harvard School of Public Health, established the Chestnut Hill Biological Laboratory here in 1889.

mwm2The Waterworks High Service Station itself was designed and built by two of Boston’s City Architects, Arthur Vinal (1887-1888) and Edmund March Wheelwright (1898). Designed and built in a Richardsonian Romanesque style, the buildings and surrounding landscape (a large, pastoral park and carriageway surrounding the reservoir and designed by the Olmstead brothers) were a source of enormous civic pride for late 19th and early 20th century Bostonians. The Low Service Station, constructed around 1899, was designed in the Beaux Arts Classical style by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, and adds to the eclectic nature of the area.

The 90-minute, behind-the-scenes tour will give History Camp visitors an up-close view of the large-format steam engines inside the museum, the hidden systems that supplied water to the engines, the historic building, and the museum’s engineering and scientific collections. Bring your cameras and capture seldom seen views of the engines, building, and infrastructure that once served the growing city of Boston.



Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 10am


The Waterworks Museum is located at 2450 Beacon Street, in the Cleveland Circle neighborhood of Boston, directly across from the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. There is limited parking on-site (marked rear and side lots).


The museum is a 10 minute walk from the Cleveland Circle stop on the Green Line C train or the Reservoir stop on the D Train.  The MBTA Bus Lines #51 and #86 to Reservoir provide additional transit access.


Please use the registration form below to hold a spot on the tour, and be prepared to pay a $8 admission ($5 for students) directly to the Waterworks Museum upon arrival.  Because tickets are limited, please let us know if you need to cancel so we can make your ticket available to others.

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History Camp® events presented by The Pursuit of History®

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