Constructed c. 1910, the former Raleigh Electric Company Power House is a rare surviving example of an early 20th-century Raleigh industrial facility. The history of the plant very nearly parallels the rise of the electric power industry in Raleigh, beginning with electric-powered streetcars placed in service in 1891. In 1908, the Raleigh Electric Company merged with two other regional suppliers to form Carolina Power & Light Company (CP& L). The Power House, with coal-fired steam-driven turbines, was constructed about 1910 to power Raleigh’s electric streetcar system, as well as to augment power supplies during periods of low flow from hydroelectric operations at CP& L’s Buckhorn Falls plant.
The plant was sited to optimize its proximity to customers, to rail access (for coal delivery and removal of waste ash from the coal-fired boilers) and to water (from the city system) for condensing steam. Architecturally, the form of the building is defined by three gabled roofs. While the building is largely sheathed in corrugated metal, its street side is brick, detailed by corner posts and central piers, with crenellated raking along the gables. Internally, the plant features a structural steel framing system.
The Power House’s days as a steam plant ended in 1930 when the west third of the building, which housed the plant’s boilers, was demolished and replaced with a one-story file storage building. Soon thereafter, the city’s electric trolley cars were replaced by gasoline-powered buses. Eventually, the building was converted to use as storage and office space for CP& L (now Progress Energy) personnel. In 1998, the building was adaptively renovated for use as a microbrewery and restaurant. The electrical substation on adjacent land, however, offers a reminder of the site’s continuing importance to local electrical service. The Raleigh Electric Company Power House is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark
The Raleigh Electric Company Power House is located at 512-515 W. Jones St. It is open during the regular operating hours of the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse; call the establishment directly at 919-832-4604 for further information.
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