Landscape Tour Stop 6
The cottage-like power house was built in 1902, as indicated in the stonework on either side of the door. As a mining engineer, W.E.C. Eustis was an early adopter of new technology, including electricity, and the construction of this building showed his commitment to the new source of energy before it was available to the residents of upper Canton Avenue.
The building originally housed an electrical generator that was powered by a massive wind turbine 90 to 100 feet above it. The library was the first room connected to the new power source. Once its reliability and safety were established, the rest of the house was wired. Eventually, commercial electricity become available and the Eustises no longer needed to generate their own power. The turbine and supporting framework were removed shortly before the great hurricane of 1938.
Paul Johnson described the operations of the windmill in his autobiography:
He would check [the windmill] twice a day to change instrument charts and to see that everything was working fine. The wind would usually handle the generating of electricity and the pumping of water, but in calm weather, Dad would start the huge gas engine to supplement the wind…The engine could be heard half a mile away. The mill would pump water and charge the batteries in the basement of the big house. At one time, it supplied the electricity needed for all purposes. (One Man’s Story, by Paul Johnson, 1991)
The turbine for the power house was clearly visible from the house. The tennis court fence is also visible in the background of this photo. The strips of burlap on the tree trunks were part of a treatment against gypsy moth infestations, catching caterpillars that crawled underneath them so they could be killed.
There was also a seventy-five foot tall water tower on a hill about one hundred yards from the power house; the hollow stone base is constructed in a similar style so it is likely it was built at the same time. The tank stored water pumped from the ice pond by the windmill on the power house. It was then used to provide water for the farm animals, the gardens, lawns, and even the laundry. The water tank is no longer standing and it is unclear when it was removed.