Wintertime at Roslindale Substation: Interview with Turtle Swamp Brewing’s John Lincecum

Wintertime at Roslindale Substation: Interview with Turtle Swamp Brewing’s John Lincecum

When space became available in the Roslindale Substation, Turtle Swamp Brewing’s co-owners, John Lincecum and Nick Walther opened their second tap room location in the heart of Adams Square. As residents of Jamaica Plain, Nick and John saw the substation space as an opportunity to bring a similar “third-place” community space to Roslindale. According to John,the 4,000 square foot historic substation space was immediately popular with the neighborhood:

The space was  great, and made for a popular event space for neighbors. We’ve hosted weddings, birthdays, and we even had a joint bat mitzvah, with two women who had done their Bat Mitzvah ceremony together 50 years ago. That was a blow out party!”

Like so many other businesses in Boston, St. Patrick’s Day 2020 marked the beginning of a quiet year for Turtle Swamp: “Early on, we returned deposits for weddings and events for 2020,” said Lincecum, “and since the beginning of the year, we’ve been put into a period of stasis.” Despite the down tick in guests, he has a few ideas brewing for the space, “My business partner’s wife is a fifth grade school teacher at the Kennedy School, and all my kids are in BPS schools. We are hoping to use the space during the week as an after school remote learning space for school children in the Boston Public Schools who are experiencing homelessness or who are part of the foster care system.” In the past, the company has run programs with the Hale School in Roxbury, but with schools closed,  the Turtle Swamp team is still formulating how to move forward with their vision. 

John also hopes to highlight the building’s history: “Boston was a transit leader of the world in the 20th century. We can romanticize horse drawn trolleys, but in reality they were smelly and the switch to the electric system was revolutionary. We hope to make the space something that shows the history and vitality of the building. Our events manager is an archivist at the Museum of Fine Arts, and we want to tap into her skills to celebrate the building’s history.”

John is looking forward to reopening. “Come next year, we’re expecting a boom in events. We want the space to be the anchor for the renewal of our community ties that have been broken since COVID started. People are still wanting to get married there and have made plans for late in 2021. We continue to be able to support the space and pay the rent and we’ve had support from the City.  It’s the kind of space we see potential in and we can use. We hope to bring it back with real enthusiasm!”