As a mining engineer, W.E.C. Eustis was an early adopter of new technology, including electricity, and the construction of the cottage-like power house 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 power generated here would charge batteries in the basement of the house that were used to power the lights and appliances.
Paul Johnson described the operations of the windmill and batteries 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.
The battery room of the big house was filled with huge glass jar batteries. It was ventilated with a duct through the roof. Dad would add water to the batteries with a hose from a tank of rain water filled by a pipe from the roof. (One Man’s Story, by Paul Johnson, 1991)