October 27, 2016

Central Burial Grounds

In Boston, there are four major cemeteries that opened during the Colonial period.

Place Years in Operation Number of Interments
King Chapel 1630 - 1660 1,500 people
Old Granary Burial Ground 1660 - 1856 5,000 people
Copp's Hill Burying Ground 1659 - 1968 10,000 people
Central Burial Grounds 1756 - 1836 5,000 people

The one that is most likely to be haunted is the Central Burial Grounds. That is because of a couple of major events that have happened at the cemetery.

Brief History of the Grounds

The need for a third burial grounds came about because of the continued growth of the city of Boston. It was established on the Boston Common in 1756. It is located on Boylston Street between Tremont Street and Charles Street.

The grounds were actually not all that desire of a place because it was further away from the main part of the city. Many of the city poor were buried here. Many children were buried here.

British Soldiers

During the occupation of Boston, the British buried their dead in the Central Burial Grounds. They either died in combat or as a result of disease during the occupation of Boston, and the various battles around the city.

First Disturbance - Boylston Street Expansion

In 1836, Boston Mayor Samuel Armstrong requested extending Boylston Street to connect with Tremont Street. As a result, a considerable part of the cemetery had to be eliminated and a row of tombs had to be moved to make room for the street.

The tombs were relocated in a long barrow, which is called the "The Dell."

The Dell Location
The Dell at the Central Burial Grounds.

Second Disturbance - The Subway Construction

In 1894, when the Tremont Street Subway was under construction, burials were discovered in the area near the cemetery. These were reinterred in a mass grave within the bounds of the burying ground.

Many of the 900 bodies that were found were the British soldiers who died during the Boston occupation 100 years earlier.

The mass grave has a slate table and three boundary stones to mark the spot of those that were relocated.

Grave Yard

There were a couple of strange events that happened near the cemetery after the two disturbances.

Tremont Street Gas Explosion

On March 4, 1897, a gas explosion took place just a few feet from the Central Burial Grounds. In all six people were killed and at least sixty were injured. All the buildings in the area were shaken and windows in the area were broken.

The total damage cost, other than the loss of six people, was $10,000. (Equivalent to $287,196.15 in 2015) Most of that was for all the broken windows in the buildings.

At the time there was a well-known issue with a gas leak at the Boylston as many people reported the strong gas smell to the gas company. The gas company was negligent for not responding in time.

However, since it happened near the cemetery and shortly after the move of many graves, some think that a paranormal event occurred.

Emerson College Construction Collapse

In 2006, a horrific accident occurred during construction at the Emerson Dormitory building on Boylston Street. This was the first building being constructed opposite the cemetery in roughly 80 years.

On April 6, 2006, a large scaffold collapsed, and three people tragically lost their lives. An investigation went into the accident and discovered that it was a worker procedure error that caused the crane to collapse.

Girl Without a face

There is a ghost story around the Central Burying Ground where a "Girl Without a face" has been spotted wandering around the graveyard. I heard about this story from various sources, and will need to research more for a future blog post.

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