The Waterworks Museum interprets unique stories of one of the country’s first metropolitan water systems through exhibitions and educational programs on engineering, architecture, social history, and public health.
Inside the Waterworks Museum is a giant mass of twisting pipes, gears, and levers make up the archaic engines that were used to pump drinking water for all of Boston, Brookline, Quincy, and Milton as well as communities far south as Norwood and Canton.
The waterworks was built in 1887, when Boston’s population and water demand had skyrocketed. It was designed by Boston architect Arthur Vinal in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson, best known for his design of the Trinity Church in Copley Square.
During the height of its service, the Boston Water Works pumped 90 million gallons of water through its three engines, the largest standing five stories tall at its highest point.
The museum is the culmination of a decades-long process to preserve the building, which had sat mostly dormant since 1976, when the city completed the switch from its steam-pumped water system to the current system.
The museum is located at 2450 Beacon Street, across the street from the historic Chestnut Hill Reservoir (recently renamed Chestnut Hill Reservation), in the Brighton and Chestnut Hill sections of Boston.