SEARSPORT, Maine — An underground piece of local history went under the wrecking ball Thursday as an old cistern was demolished to make way for a new water main.
The brick cistern on Reservoir Street was built in the 1880s, according to town officials, and was used to hold water for fighting fires. Town manager James Gillway said water pumped from the cistern by hand was used to extinguish a fire in Union Hall more than a century ago.
At one time, there were eight similar cisterns in locations around town, but they were dismantled and the holes were filled in the 1980s.
The one beside Union Hall was 15 feet across and 16 feet deep. It could store 20,000 gallons of water, Gillway estimated.
“It’s kind of scary that that thing was just two feet under the pavement,” Gillway said. “We knew something was out there, but we didn’t know how big or to what extent.”
The cistern was removed as part of the Searsport Water District’s $75,000 waterline extension.
Superintendent Herb Kronholm said when the existing 6-inch waterline was installed, the district routed it around the cistern. The new 8-inch line will run directly through where the cistern was located and connect to a 16-inch main line on Route 1.
Reservoir Street is scheduled to be resurfaced next year.