ROSLINDALE, MA, June 22, 2015  A massive ceiling crane in the historic, pre-MBTA power substation in Roslindale that served Boston’s transit system was moved into position at noon today, an impressive industrial relic that will grace the restaurant now being designed for the historic space.

As a handful of representatives of the three partner organizations that are bringing the 1911 Roslindale Substation back to life with modern uses, Richard Stokes, field operative for crane specialists Konecranes, pulled heavy chains and turned a -30-inch steel wheel high on the ceiling.

The box crane perpendicular sets of large steel I-beams, pulleys, cables, and wheels rolling along tracks  moved several feet in two directions, so that it will be visible through the building’s restored cathedral windows as well as to restaurant patrons.

Stokes said he could find no name of any manufacturer on the huge metal parts but noted one beam was marked that when installed it was rated to lift 250 tons. The enormous hook now suspended 11 feet, 4 inches off the floor was used to move transformers and other equipment around the building, which was decommissioned in the 1970s. The crane had not been moved since then.

The crane had no electric parts and instead was operated by humans who turned the wheels manually, just as Stokes did yesterday. He said that it was the oldest crane he had ever worked on but that it moved smoothly after being checked for safety.

The final position of the overhead crane was determined in plans drawn up by the architect of the redevelopment of the structure, Prellwitz Chilinski Associates of Cambridge. The restaurant?s interior, with further historic elements such as restored windows and doors, will be built under the prominent crane.

The Substation project is being undertaken by Historic Boston Inc., Roslindale Village Main Street, and Peregrine Group, LLC of Rumford, RI. The crane’s flawless movement today was coordinated by Jennifer L. Matthew, senior project manager for Peregrine Group. Konecranes, a Finnish company that manufactures and services stationary cranes, has offices in Chelmsford, MA, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

On hand for the long-awaited repositioning of the prominent historic artifact was Chris Douglass, who operates two restaurants in Dorchester, Ashmont Grill and Tavolo Ristorante. He said his third restaurant on the upper floor now being reconstructed in the Roslindale Substation will be called Third Rail, a sly reference not only to his third establishment but also to the electrified rail that powers some MBTA transit lines.

The restaurant is being designed and will open in several months. In the meantime, Craft Beer Cellar, a retail craft brew business, is scheduled to open in late fall on the ground floor of the Substation. Khawaiii Sok, working with demolition company SRS Contractors of Lowell, demonstrated for observers how the heavy internal brick walls of the building were removed, revealing substantial steel columns and opening up the lower floor for use by the brew business and extra space for the Third Rail restaurant, bar, and kitchen that will operate upstairs.

The Substation, located at 4228 Washington St., across from Roslindale Square, was once an essential tool in power operations of Boston’s transit system.

It functioned as part of the Boston Elevated Railway Company’s then revolutionary alternating electric current power system. Designed by architect Robert Peabody of Peabody and Stearns with Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation, the Substation is one of six nearly identical converter substations built in and around Boston at that time.

The Substation converted alternating current (AC) transmitted from a new South Boston Power Station via underground cables into direct current (DC) for use by local trolley cars. The Roslindale Substation continued operating until the1970s but has been vacant and unused since then.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority tentatively designated Historic Boston Inc. and Roslindale Village Main Street to develop the Roslindale Substation in 2011. When the adjacent Higgins Funeral parcels became available for purchase in 2012, the two nonprofit organizations purchased the land, consolidated it with the substation and partnered with Peregrine Group, LLC on the redevelopment.

The two-story substation is 8,000 gross square feet. This new addition to an increasingly vibrant and active Roslindale Square will revive a prominent corner and restore some of the historic fabric of the neighborhood.

Construction began about a year ago. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Parkside on Adams, 43 units of housing, constructed on the site of an adjacent lot that housed the Higgins Funeral Home, is completed and almost fully leased.

The Substation portion of the project began this spring and will cost is $4.8 million. The Substation?s rehabilitation, undertaken with Federal and Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits, will be completed late this year.


Historic Boston Incorporated is a nonprofit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so they can become useable parts of the city’s present and future. HBI works with local partners to identify and invest in historic buildings and cultural resources whose re-use will be catalysts for neighborhood renewal. HBI acquires and redevelops historic structures and provides technical expertise, planning services and financing for rehabilitation projects. HBI projects demonstrate that preserving historic properties is economically viable and that they can be functioning assets in a community. For more information, please go to www.historicboston.org .

For more information, please contact:

Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston, Inc.



Or Tom Palmer

Tom Palmer Communication