Otis House

Mill Pond

At the northern end of the Shamut Peninsula, which would eventually become Boston’s North End, development first began in the seventeenth century with the construction of corn mills along the shore by a group of investors. The cove was dammed, a channel constructed, and floodgates built — all working in tandem to provide tidal water from the adjacent harbor to power the mills and, later, several rum distilleries.

But by 1800, garbage, refuse, and sewage made the Mill Pond area a notorious breeding ground for disease. Efforts to fill it were led by Harrison Gray Otis using a design by Charles Bulfinch, and much of the fill for the Pond came from the land taken from the top of Beacon Hill, having been excavated for the benefit of Otis and Bulfinch’s real estate development venture.