Substation Redevelopment

The Roslindale Substation is located at 4228 Washington Street, at the corner of Washington Street and Cummins Highway in Roslindale. Facing Adams Park, it is in the heart of Roslindale Village. The 1911 Classical Revival building is listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The location of the substation in Roslindale reflected the growth and development of this area of the city at the turn of the century as well as the development of the city’s transportation system. The building was designed by nationally known architect Robert S. Peabody and Stone & Webster engineers who were also responsible for the construction. The design and decorative details illustrate the pride taken in Boston’s cutting edge electrical system for its expansive transit system that was one of the first in the country.  

The Roslindale Substation was a critical component in the reorganization of power generation for the Boston area’s public transportation during the first decade of the 20th century.  It was one of five substations to become operational after the completion of the South Boston Power Station in 1911, which marked the centralization of power generation and the shift towards alternating current (a/c) power. The substations converted alternating current (a/c) electric power from the power station to direct current (d/c) electric power for streetcar use.

It is likely that Roslindale was chosen as the location for the southern most substation as the area has experienced a time of rapid suburbanization along with growth in its commercial district. At the turn of the century, Roslindale was replacing numerous wood-frame structures with larger brick and masonry buildings.  Roslindale also had the advantage of being located along the main road between Boston and Dedham, which hosted a horse drawn and later an electric trolley service. 

Roslindale Substation has undergone a major historic rehabilitation in the past two years. The once dark cavernous space received new historically appropriate windows casting light into the large two story main space and imposing gantry crane. Prior to the rehabilitation the building had no heat, ventilation, or plumbing and an out of date electrical system. The building is now accessible for all and has all of the modern conveniences. The final work to be completed as part of the rehabilitation includes the insertion of a window into the large arched historic opening facing Adams Park and Washington Street.

RVMS, Historic Boston Inc., and Peregrine continue to look to identify a long term tenant for the main floor of the Substation. The Craft Beer Cellar is located in the lower level of the Substation.