Photos & Videos

Privy to the Past: Immigrant Histories from Washington Garden [Video]

Boston archaeologist, Joe Bagley, revealed early conclusions from his ongoing dig at Washington Garden, adjacent to Old North Church. The event was co-sponsored by Old North Church Foundation and the North End Historical Society on May 17, 2017.

Washington Garden, soon to be renamed Longfellow Garden after renovations, was once home to three buildings, 1-3 Unity Court built in 1830. The properties housed dozens of English, Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigrants between their construction and their demolition in the 1930s. Archaeologists from the City of Boston Archaeology Program have been working for about a year at Washington Garden to excavate the back yard of three brick tenement buildings that once stood in the garden.

Three privies (outhouses) and several other structures were rediscovered in the Garden, revealing tens of thousands of artifacts from the people who once lived there. Bagley explained what this material tells us about the lives of North Enders in the 19th century. He is literally putting the pieces together to formulate the story of these immigrant voices.

Following the talk, Joe Bagley and Jim Pasto of NEHS participated in a community conversation focused on what role immigrants have played in Boston’s history, particularly the North End.

View the full presentation by City Archaeologist Joe Bagley in the above video, with an introduction by Old North Church Foundation Chair, Stephen T. Ayres.