Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Reservoir, 1865-1944


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.

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  • 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.
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Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
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