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Historic machine removed from Bay Pointe Marina

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 13, 2012 02:26 PM

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Bay Pointe Marina has removed a historic relic on the property that owners say was broken and blocking the way of expansion.

The steam-powered winch, also known as a steam donkey, was typically used for logging operations, but were often found in maritime environments. There, the machines were used to load and unload cargo and raise larger sails with small crews.

According to Damien Pettinelli, owner of the property, less than half of the original structure was there and one of the gears had broken in half. The remaining structure was about 5 feet tall and 15 feet long. (Photos of the winch appeared on the web in 2006.)

“It wasn’t worth saving,” he said. “Some of it was cast iron parts and they were broken and half of them were gone. It was a big steamer once, and there were a few gears left.”

The pieces were removed to make way for more storage area, Pettinelli said.

"This is a marina, and it will enable us to store a few more boats a bit easily. So that’s what we’re doing," he said.

Pettinelli purchased the property 18 years ago, but the winch wasn't visible until the past couple of year, when trees around the machine were cut down.

Pettinelli said there were no regulations in place about moving the item, because it is on private property.

“What you can’t do is replace something and say it’s historical. But if you replace one of the gears, it would be an enormous expense. It just wasn’t worth doing,” he said.

He also doubted the local historical society would want such a thing, as it would be too much money to fix. “They don’t have enough money; they have it to spend in enough places in Quincy,” he said.

Edward Fitzgerald, executive director of the Quincy Historical Society, agreed that the winch would have been too difficult to take and too big to store at the organization's Quincy location.

“In the past we’ve taken some big pieces. We have some big pieces from the Grossman Companies that we’ve stored off site, but it would have been difficult for us to … do any preservation,“ Fitzgerald said.

City officials did not return calls for comment; however, Fitzgerald said there are no regulations that would have protected the historic relic, as typically the only property that benefit from protective regulations have to fall within historic districts.

“The only two historic districts are Quincy Center and the Adams birthplace. Bay Pointe is not within a historic district. I don’t think there would be anything that would cover that. It's basically private property and the rights of a property owner are paramount,” he said.

Pettinelli said no one had a problem with the removal of the winch, except for David and Jane Johnston, who came into the office when it was being removed and were visibly upset.

David said that seeing the item destroyed was a shame.

"When we went down, we were in the process of demolishing it. They took a big shovel and smashed it with smithereens. Knowing it was the only one around, I thought it should be salvaged," he said. "I don’t know if anyone else is concerned. We happened to see it happen. I don’t know to what degree other people knew about it or even cared about it. But we were upset about it."

David said he thought the item should have been moved, possibly even to the Souther Tide Mill.

"It didn’t have a chance to survive…this piece of history can go down the shute and no body seems to care," he said.

Regardless, the winch has since been removed and the parts disposed of. Although Pettinelli didn't save any of the pieces, he said he wished there had been enough interest for someone to do something with it.

“I wish there was hope, I wish people could have come and taken it, but we’ve announced this for a while…we told the people here in the city what we were doing, and it’s fine,” he said.

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