Preserving Our Past

Waterworks museumRecently we were asked to participate in a workshop sponsored by NESEA (North East Sustainable Energy Association) which Steveworks is a member.

Visiting the Waterworks Museum  ( is an amazing experience. It’s a spectacular Richardsonian Romanesque structure that still houses the massive pumps that were key components in getting fresh water to Boston at the turn of the last century. The cathedral-like pump room has been turned into a fascinating museum describing the history of Boston’s water distribution system. It’s a beautiful, sometimes eerie space.

waterworks2__1301681832_0739When the pumps were operational, heating the building was never an issue — the place was like an oven. With the pumps now idle, the *moisture and thermal dynamics of the building have changed radically*. The whole building poses *classic preservation challenges everywhere* you look: How to treat acres and acres of historic windows? How to cost-effectively heat or cool small areas of a massive volume for occupant comfort?

The Boston area is home to countless non-profits whose most significant assets are historic masonry buildings: not only museums like Waterworks but also colleges, private schools, and churches. We need to *provide these organizations* — and the architects, engineers, and contractors who work with them — *better tools for being good long-term stewards of these buildings *and help them get out of the trap of making an endless series of ad hoc decisions responding to the crisis of the month. This workshop is a big first step towards achieving that goal, and we hope you’ll be able to be a part many more.

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