Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Silver Spring Mystery Building

Recently reader Mike C. emailed me with the question, "What is that beige windowless building at the corner of Fenton and Cameron Ave?"

My answer? Dammed if I know. To be honest, the building at 8709 Cameron Street (across from the secret movie theater) is so nondescript I must have passed by it hundreds of times without giving it a second thought.


Turns out this structure belongs to everyone's favorite utility, Pepco, and houses our local electrical substation. These substations are essential for ensuring your power will fail as a result of the slightest of breezes or smallest of snowflakes.

A photograph taken with my personal spy satellite reveals large skylights on the roof through which some sort of electrical equipment can be seen.


Unlike this Pepco substation on 8th street in the District, where the facades of old buildings were utilized as camouflage, our substation is hiding in plain sight.

Photo by Flickr user StreetsofWashington

Interesting bit of history: in the olden days, local substations were frequently disguised as houses.

I would have preferred a more interesting answer, like it was a local office for the Men in Black or something, but I still choose to think of this building as where the Transformers live, because that is true (in a way).





14 comments:

David Rotenstein said...

Cool post. I always wanted to do a blog post on Montgomery County's transformer buildings. There are several really good articles and book chapters on these. One of the more interesting blog posts I've found is this one: Transformer Houses

Brian said...

I know Mike C. and I'm terrified of the implications of this information. He's actually a sleeper Soviet spy (or SSS). You can tell because of his giant head and shifty eyes. Because of you, he now has more information on our outdated and fragile infrastructure to bring about neo-Proletarian revolution.

I hope you're proud of yourself.

WashingtonGardener said...

My house is a former substation for East Silver Spring. According to Pepco staffer I talked to, it was built in the early '30s and was sold to a local real estate develope in the early '70s - who bought 13 of them in the down county and re-made them as real houses.
My walls are over a foot thick concrete with red brick on the ouside and my roof is concrete with New England slate. The large chimney was to vent the transformers - it is now capped and purely decorative. The house is soundproof and very cool in the summer. My house inpector flipped out when he arrived pre-settlement and took about 100 photos of my attic area to share with his colleagues.
Most visitors cannot tell that it had a nonhouse past - a few remark on the depth of the windowsills.

Anonymous said...

*** CSM OPS ALERT ***
Covert facility A-13-4 has been compromised.
Remove all alien breeding equipment to facility A-47-8, code name "Ice Rink".
*** END OF TRANSMISSION ***

Gary said...

Which is a bigger urban planning fail? The Verizon switching building at Georgia/Cameron, or the suburban-style Chevy Chase (Capital One) excrescence they built next door? It's like a couple of turds in the middle of downtown.

Sligo said...

Nothing will ever top those hideous Chevy Chase buildings.

Charles said...

A house near Montgomery College, Takoma Park, was constructed as a transformer building. It was later converted to a "normal" house and sold, and still stands today. (Exact location not disclosed on purpose).

albina N muro said...

Maintenance & repair of fire detection equipment; Repair & maintenance of ... Repair & maintenance of heating & cooling systems,building repair and maintenance

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