Ronan Park

Sinkhole Reveals 19th-Century Well in Boston Park

Historic Well Discovered Under Mysterious Sinkhole In Boston’s Ronan Park

Over the weekend, a mysterious sinkhole was found in Ronan Park by a local, and Archeologist Joe Bagley of the City of Boston announced on Thursday that the sinkhole actually leads to a historical well from the 1800s.

According to Bagley, this was discovered by lowering an iPhone with LED lights into the hole with a rope.

“The way the well is positioned in the ground, it is currently under about 10 feet of fill that is brought to the site to create Ronan Park in 1912,” said Bagley.

Sinkhole Reveals 19th-Century Well in Boston Park
A mysterious sinkhole in Ronan Park. 

“The top of the well is located 10 feet below that and the well is about 6.5 feet deep. That makes the total opening in the park about 16.5 half feet deep. The well is about 2.5 feet wide.”

Bagley also said the reason sinkhole formed was due to the recent rain that loosened up the soil in the ground.

He went on to explain the interesting history behind the well and how it became a part of the land.

According to Bagley, a pastor for the nearby First Church in Dorchester purchased the property in the 1790s and built a mansion on the northern end of the park.

The land where the well ended up being located remained underdeveloped until it was purchased in 1818 by John F. Pierce, a cabinet and piano maker. He built a 10-acre property and lived nearby.

His estate was broken up on September 22, 1871, and a widow by the name of Mary L. Pierce, who Bagley said was possibly related to John F. Pierce, ended up getting the property.

Bagley says the well was either built-in 1818 by John F. Pierce and his estate or by Mary L. Pierce between 1871 or 1872.

“It’s either or at this point,” said Bagley. “The well would have likely been abandoned in the 1870s to 1890s when this area received running water for the first time from Boston Water and Sewer.

At that point, Mary passed away and the property transferred to another person by the name of Hannah Bliss, who then sold the property to the city of Boston to turn it into Ronan Park.”

The resident who found the sinkhole over the weekend called 311, so Boston Fire and Police responded.

Ryan Woods, the Commissioner of Boston’s Parks and Recreation, says the sinkhole is being examined to make sure all the drainage is intact before it is filled again.

“It should be filled back within the next two weeks. So by the end of this month, it should be back to normal, completely reseeded and completely filled,” said Woods.

As of Thursday, the hole had been blocked off with barricades, police tape and a fence.