The Domino Sugar Refinery
A look back on the decades when Domino operated a sugar refinery on Medford Street.
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The Domino sugar refinery on Medford Street was owned by the American Sugar Refining Company, the largest sugar refining company in the United States. In the early 1960s, the company moved its operation from South Boston to the 20 acre site on the Mystic River. It was the first new refinery to be built in the United States since 1935.
The Domino plant was built on land that was once an old swimming beach. Dewey Beach, as it was called, was a popular spot for swimming and swim races. Before putting up the Domino buildings an "immense amount of fill" was needed to level both the beach and a small public park. There were also remains of a public bath house on the site.
Sugar refining and storage
In addition to the warehouse that is still standing, there was a complex of buildings for the refining process, including a steel and hammered aluminum warehouse in the shape of a dome, 107 feet high with capacity to store 66 million pounds of raw sugar. From dockside the MS. Domino Crystal, a 9,500-ton bulk carrier, fed its cargo of bulk raw cane sugar into the dome, with the help of three traveling electric cranes. Covered conveyor belts later conveyed the sugar from the dome into the refining center.
Fifteen stories above ground level were seven large product storage silos where 5 million pounds of refined sugar could be stored. There were also massive tanks for liquid sugars.
The "finished product warehouse," the only building that remains, could store up to 10 million pounds of packaged sugar. On one side of this warehouse are 15 truck loading doors; on the opposite side was an enclosed area for loading railroad cars.
End of the refinery
The refinery closed in 1988. The demand for refined sugar dropped as more nutritional information came out about its hazards and manufacturers began to produce high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners as sugar substitutes. All but the remaining warehouse were dismantled.
In 1994, the Flatley Company bought the property, which includes the vast swath of land where the aluminum silo once was. It is listed on the Flatley web-site as Marine Park Limited Partnership.
In 2003 CMGI, a technology holding company, moved from its Andover location into the warehouse to share space with SalesLink, a subsidiary which was leasing from Flatley. Although CMGI changed its name to Modus Link Global Solutions in 2008, the names SalesLink and CMGI are still on the front door.
Information for this article was compiled from August 11, 2003 issue of Boston Business Journal;various web-sites including www.flatleyco.com, www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/13/Domino-Sugar-Corporation.html and www.charlestownonline.net; papers, including 'American’s New Domino Refinery Opens in Boston,' written by the staff of American Sugar Refining Company and Bechtel Briefs 1961 by Bechtel Corporation; also interview.