October 28, 2011 Archaeology at the Eustis Street Fire House
One of the biggest challenges HBI encountered during construction at the Eustis Street Fire House was excavating next to a historic cemetery that contains many unmarked graves. Although we made every effort to minimize digging, there was no way of avoiding it altogether, since we were building a new addition behind the fire house on the footprint of the earlier stable addition, which collapsed 20 years ago. Our new addition would not include a basement, but it needed a foundation and footings, so some excavation was unavoidable.
A lot has changed since 1859, including attitudes about appropriate and respectful treatment of human remains. The Massachusetts Historical Commission required that HBI conduct a thorough archaeological survey in the areas we needed to dig to make sure that we would not disrupt burials. If graves were encountered, we would either need to work around them or determine a plan for removing and re-interring the individuals elsewhere. Neither would be easy.