Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
|The Reservoir, or Rez, as it was known by students, was located where the residential quad lies today, to the west of Ballou Hall and the original campus. The Mystic Water Works Reservoir provided water for the surrounding area. A walkway around the perimeter of the Rez was used for running and late-night strolls, and its embankments were popular sites for picnics and outdoor gatherings.|
The Rez was constructed to provide water for Boston, Chelsea, Charlestown, and Somerville. It also provided water for the Medford Cattle Station in North Somerville to water herds prior to their transport to Brighton for slaughter. At first the site was unfenced, but after three neighborhood children drowned there, as well as a scattering of suicides, a wooden fence was constructed. After being repeatedly looted for bonfires, a wire fence was added in 1917. In 1919 an iron fence was built, surviving until the reservoir was dismantled in 1944.Portions of the fence remain on Packard Avenue across from Gifford House and along the west end of Professors Row by the Fletcher field.
During excavations conducted by the Metropolitan District Commission for an access road to the Rez in 1879 a Native American burial mound was unearthed. Nine skeletons along with various artifacts were found. Students scavenged the site for items which were used by many to decorate their dorm rooms.
The Rez was periodically drained and cleaned. In one such cleaning in 1905 a .38 caliber revolver was found which was linked to an unsolved area murder.
The Rez figured prominently in student folklore over the years. It was said that dates made on the Rez could never be broken, and that seniors asking for a date on the top step of the pumphouse could not be refused. According to legend, a scuffle between a senior, at the Rez with his date, and a freshman, resulted in the senior being dumped into the water. The Rez was subsequently declared off-limits to freshmen, a ban that was only partially enforced by the Sword and Shield society, designated keeper of campus traditions. An exception to the ban was the unceremonious dunking of first-year students which took place periodically.
Between 1914 and 1944 the reservoir's water supply was used for emergency purposes only, and in 1944 was sold to the college for one dollar. The site was promptly drained and the bricks salvaged for use on the Bray Laboratory. Potential uses for the site were debated with leading contenders being the creation of a large swimming pool and skating rink, or a huge football bowl. In 1948 the site was filled in and leveled for use as a parking lot until the construction of Carmichael Hall in the mid 1950s.
Source: TC, Winter 1988.
The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.