If you have ever walked around this corner you have walked through what used to be the (not) final resting place for 178 people. At one point this building, now the North Suffolk Mental Health Association, was the first church in Revere, built in 1710. There were a number of tombs under the church which held the remains of many notable Revere families of the 18th and 19th centuries.
By the early 1900s the tombs had fallen into disrepair. The walls were crumbling, the remains were exposed and there are stories of children using the tombs for clubhouses and playing with human bones. In September of 1910 the remains were relocated, most to Rumney Marsh Burial Ground and some to other local cemeteries. The tomb remains in RMBG are marked by dark grey stones which indicate the tomb from which they were removed.
We recently came across a few documents that relate to the removal of the remains from the tombs. They put together a short timeline: in 1909 the town “appealed to the legislature and obtained authority” to remove the remains. This was carried out in September of 1910. The plans to then destroy the tombs in order to create Cary Ave. and extend Eustis St. hit a legal snag in 1911. In April of 1912 a man named Theodore W. Gillette took pictures of the tombs and left them with the Town Clerk. We assume this was done just prior to their destruction.
The most thorough of these documents is a “Record of Removal of 178 Bodies from Tombs in rear of First Unitarian Church,” dated September 1910 and signed by the Chairmen of the Revere Board of Health. This document gives the names of the people relocated and the cemeteries they were relocated to. This process made the news at the time, as evidenced by a Boston Globe article with the remarkable headline “Revere Anxious to Obliterate Tombs.” We have fully transcribed both documents in order to provide as complete a picture as possible of who these people were, why their remains were moved, and where they are now. See the links below to learn more!
Record of Removal of 178 Bodies from Tombs in rear of First Unitarian Church – September 1910 | RMBGRC.org
Revere Anxious to Obliterate Tombs: The Boston Globe, April 10, 1911 | RMBGRC.org