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fi67

Historic Transformer Sub-Station Buildings

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Where I live, you can still find many of those structures, especially in small towns. They look like small towers or houses that have a ridiculously small floor plan and are much too tall. Most of them were built in the 1920s, now they are usually abandoned, many have gone, and more will go away, but some of them are protected by heritage lists or have been converted to museums, stores, even apartments or distilleries, or they are just used as storage rooms by the municipal operations departments.

 

Here you can find a list with many examples (only in German, sorry, but look at the pictures): http://www.trafoturm.eu/europa/

Or here: Google Picture Search

 

They seem to have been very common in Continental Europe from Sweden to Italy and from Portugal to Russia. But I could not find anything similar yet from the US, Canada, the UK or Australia.

 

Don't they exist there and how are they exactly called in English? If not, is it still global enough for a new category?

 

They are great witnesses of the early history of technology and often also interesting from an architectural point of view. And they are endangered.

 

What do you think? Time for a new category?

Edited by fi67
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Hello Waymarker.

 

Actually, the desire to make power substations more visually pleasing is a recent thing in North America.

 

I have worked as a power engineer and traveled the world for 15 years, but I have only seen such a housing like this in Europe as you have described ( I believe I saw one of the housings pictured in Slovenia on the website). The electrical system was constructed to simply function in the earlier days, with little concern for safety or how it looks. As these systems have aged, they were replaced with better technology and safety in mind, but not how it looks.

 

These days though, when a substation is being constructed so that it does not look so industrial, the outdoor switch yard will still exist, then the transformer system will be placed inside a building. I have seen a few that look like a barn, and some others that looked like a house the same as the other houses around it. Mostly though, when a substation transformer is considered as ugly, it is hidden in a vault underground.

 

The 'transformer housings', as shown on the website are a good way to make them look nice around residential areas, but doing this is a relatively new idea to us in North America, compared to Europe.

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Recent stations in Europe do neither look like this; they are just some larger utility boxes at the roadside. The buildings on the pictures are all historic, mostly built in the 1920s with a bandwidth of about 20 years. But they are still around and worth to be documented.

 

BTW: I have found one structure in the US: the transformer station in Cleveland, that is now an exhibition space.

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Recent stations in Europe do neither look like this; they are just some larger utility boxes at the roadside. The buildings on the pictures are all historic, mostly built in the 1920s with a bandwidth of about 20 years. But they are still around and worth to be documented.

 

We've come across a couple of these. One I can remember was at the hydro dam at Thompson Falls, Montana. I'll see if I can dig up the waymark in which it was included. It seems to me that it was a contributing building to the historic district at the dam, which is an old one.

 

Here it is - Transformer House. There are several pix with the waymark.

 

Here's another, a heritage site in the old mining, now ski resort, town of Rossland, BC:

West Kootenay Power & Light Substation. Again, more pix here.

 

Another that I can think of is the substation originally built about 1908 for the copper smelter at Greenwood, BC. It's a larger, two storey brick building which still has the glass insulators and pass-throughs where the wire entered. Unfortunately, it's not registered as a heritage building (yet) by the town or the province, so I haven't been able to waymark it, hence I have no pix online. It you do a Google Image search on "smelter substation Greenwood, BC", the first few pix will be of the substation.

 

OR - go to Google Street View at these coords: 49.080382 -118.683763

 

So, to answer your question, they do exist here, but many people don't recognize them for what they are.

 

As for a category for transformer buildings & substations (old ones) - I'm all for it!!! As you see, I already have at least 3 candidates - probably more which have escaped my memory when I left the door open that day.

 

The memory is starting to kick in - just thought of another one - Substation at the Meyers Falls Power Plant Historic District in Kettle Falls, WA. This is a little substation built in 1915, now abandoned and another Historic District Contributing Building.

 

I just now thought to look at the links you provided. Are those transformer houses EVER COOL!!! Anything that cool and plentiful needs a category - count me in!!! The North Americans will be able to find some too (though ours aren't nearly as cool, at least the ones I've found) if they take the time to look.

Edited by BK-Hunters
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Now, this is good news. I was already starting to think the idea was not as good and nobody cares.

 

It is a truly global category. When many people don't recognize them and there are little documentations around, it's even better in my opinion. Then a category can make information available, that is not yet collected somewhere else. It's more fun to research than copy/paste, and there will be an added value for the public outside the Waymarking community.

 

I will create a group and start working at the details.

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From time to time i see one of this old Transformer Substation Buildings. Just the other week i saw one being demolished, it was a was a granite tower that was no longer in use:

 

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The images above from the one that was demolished are from the Google Street View since it does exists anymore, (sadly i didn't take any pictures).

This may be an interesting category to preserve some informations of these locations if they are destroyed.

 

Unfortunately at least around here most of the times apart from the pictures and the location is almost impossible to gather more information about them.

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Yep! Looks good to us, too. Can't really think of anything you've missed. It's comprehensive yet concise. Other than the Anglais Suisse in places :P it looks just fine. And, yes, my Français Suisse has deteriorated substantially through the years.

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Thank you for all this positive feedback! This looks promising for Peer Review. As one of the officers is currently offline, officers vote would run into a time-out, so I will wait a few more days. We are not in a hurry.

 

Meanwhile, any ideas for improvement are still welcome.

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Well done. Outside of the US, the English spelling of the word sub-station includes the hyphen.

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Some questions that came up in peer review:

 

Are active buildings allowed? Yes, sure. It is a variable. I know several of these old buildings that now just house modern equipment.

 

What about new structures? I have thought about an age limit and decided to not mention age in the category. I hope that new buildings fit the spirit of this category.

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Some questions that came up in peer review:

 

Are active buildings allowed? Yes, sure. It is a variable. I know several of these old buildings that now just house modern equipment.

 

What about new structures? I have thought about an age limit and decided to not mention age in the category. I hope that new buildings fit the spirit of this category.

 

If new buildings are accepted, than why lead us to believe the category is for historic buildings. Is there not already a category that they will fit in?

 

Why is this brought to the forums during peer review? I thought it was well accepted, but also this seems how the pass then change process works.

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Some questions that came up in peer review:

 

Are active buildings allowed? Yes, sure. It is a variable. I know several of these old buildings that now just house modern equipment.

 

What about new structures? I have thought about an age limit and decided to not mention age in the category. I hope that new buildings fit the spirit of this category.

 

If new buildings are accepted, than why lead us to believe the category is for historic buildings. Is there not already a category that they will fit in?

 

Why is this brought to the forums during peer review? I thought it was well accepted, but also this seems how the pass then change process works.

The category is for historic buildings, primarily. Because, that is what they are in most areas; historic and getting rarer over time. Old ones are destroyed and no new ones are built. There may be some exceptions, but they will always be a small minority and I have no real justification to exclude them.

 

And when draw the line and why? 1940, 1960, 1980? There will always be one, that is just outside the limits but would perfectly fit. So I decided to not mention age, but clearly state historic in the title. That's how it was since the beginning, and nothing has changed.

 

I have just answered some questions that came up in the peer review comments, there is no other place to do that than here.

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Some questions that came up in peer review:

 

Are active buildings allowed? Yes, sure. It is a variable. I know several of these old buildings that now just house modern equipment.

 

What about new structures? I have thought about an age limit and decided to not mention age in the category. I hope that new buildings fit the spirit of this category.

 

If new buildings are accepted, than why lead us to believe the category is for historic buildings. Is there not already a category that they will fit in?

 

Why is this brought to the forums during peer review? I thought it was well accepted, but also this seems how the pass then change process works.

The category is for historic buildings, primarily. Because, that is what they are in most areas; historic and getting rarer over time. Old ones are destroyed and no new ones are built. There may be some exceptions, but they will always be a small minority and I have no real justification to exclude them.

 

And when draw the line and why? 1940, 1960, 1980? There will always be one, that is just outside the limits but would perfectly fit. So I decided to not mention age, but clearly state historic in the title. That's how it was since the beginning, and nothing has changed.

 

I have just answered some questions that came up in the peer review comments, there is no other place to do that than here.

 

I'm all for historic listings, but this seems like bait and switch now that we know any Transformer Sub-Station Building fits the category.

I would just suggest removing the word "Historic" from the category title.

 

I did adjust my vote to abstain, really I'm not sure they exist in my area, not historic ones anyway but we do have plenty of transformer sub-station buildings. :D

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The category has passed peer review and is active. We already have submissions from seven different countries on three continents. Thank you for your support!

 

There was one point in the category description that was not received totally positive, and I would like to improve this according to general consensus, if possible.

 

The title says "historic", but there is not clear definition or age restriction in the description. Not everyone was comfortable with this.

 

I have come across several hundred of those structures in different countries, but I have never seen one that was built after the 1950s. So from my point of view, there was no need to explicitly restrict the age, because they are all historic. Maybe this is not the case in other places of the world, but I have done some research in advance and did not find any clue that this is really the case. And this makes sense. Why should the stakeholders and customers of a power plant welcome the multiple costs of a real building compared to a standard box today? Except for some special cases where external factors enforce a building. As far as I can see, these special cases are probably so rare, that it does not make any sense to exclude them. But the focus is on historic buildings, and almost all submissions are going to be historic.

 

Your opinion? Do you know areas, where the situation is so different that it has to be considered?

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This is really strange. I work in a village compared to my home zone this is more like back in the past. One example, they close the shops here on Wednesday at 12:00 o'clock. So we have many of this little 'towers' in this area, never noticed them before, but now I do. So I thought they are also easy to find in my home zone, BUT: I looked two days around (big radius) and found not a single one. It looks like they had been transferred to little units high up on some of the power poles. I knew one and we drove a long way to take pictures just to see that it was gone and a little power unit stands at the location. Please be careful looking to much around while driving, because that's what I did until my wife told me that I'm leaving the road to nowhere.

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The category has passed peer review and is active. We already have submissions from seven different countries on three continents. Thank you for your support!

 

There was one point in the category description that was not received totally positive, and I would like to improve this according to general consensus, if possible.

 

The title says "historic", but there is not clear definition or age restriction in the description. Not everyone was comfortable with this.

 

I have come across several hundred of those structures in different countries, but I have never seen one that was built after the 1950s. So from my point of view, there was no need to explicitly restrict the age, because they are all historic. Maybe this is not the case in other places of the world, but I have done some research in advance and did not find any clue that this is really the case. And this makes sense. Why should the stakeholders and customers of a power plant welcome the multiple costs of a real building compared to a standard box today? Except for some special cases where external factors enforce a building. As far as I can see, these special cases are probably so rare, that it does not make any sense to exclude them. But the focus is on historic buildings, and almost all submissions are going to be historic.

 

Your opinion? Do you know areas, where the situation is so different that it has to be considered?

 

My only concern is that if and when someone does spot one and then looks for a category (we've all been there, pretend you don't know anything about this category and you find a location, think it is neat and next look for the correct category in which to waymark it). But you only see one category, "Historic Transformer Sub-Stations Buildings" and so, disappointed, you shelve the photos and move on. I'm guessing there;s probably 20 - 40 waymarkers now familiar with this category (based on peer review). The rest likely know nothing more than the title. Category titles are huge when you are sorting through a thousand titles.

 

What about "Historic or Unique Transformer Sub-Stations Buildings" as a title? That should convey that any historic building is accept and any modern building as well as long as it's not just another plain box.

 

BTW, I can't wait to return to my birthplace to get the photos of the large and historic transformer sub-station where my grandfather once worked. The substation powered the electric railway, which is long gone. The building has not been waymarked, as best I could tell it didn't fit any category until now.

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