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Some of the oldest dirt in Boston is at Otis House

Intact Subsoil


Boston – In advance of repairs to a rear retaining wall, Historic New England conducted three rounds of archaeology and discovered a layer of intact subsoil in the ground behind Otis House

on Cambridge Street.


The intact subsoil is a layer of soil that has been undisturbed since at least 1630. In an area of just three hundred square feet, on land that has been occupied since the seventeenth century, in a neighborhood transformed by twentieth-century urban renewal, it was an unexpected and rare discovery. The only other documented area where this kind of soil has been found in Boston is on the Boston Common.

Otis House (1796) is the last surviving mansion in Bowdoin Square in Boston's West End neighborhood. Visitors learn about the Otis family's life and the later history of the house, when it served as a clinic and a middle-class boardinghouse.

About Historic New England
Otis House is one of thirty-six historic properties owned and operated by Historic New England, the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation. Historic New England shares the region’s history through vast collections, publications, programs, museum properties, archives, and family stories that document more than 400 years of life in New England.



Some of the oldest dirt in Boston is at Otis House