The history geek in me has always been fascinated by the downtowns of the cities and towns where I have lived.  What were they like "back in the day"?

Of course, before every town had chance restaurants and shopping malls / plazas, downtown was where most businesses were located.  But, what businesses were there?  What restaurants?  What shops?  What about hotels and apartments?

Ever since moving to Augusta, Maine in June of 2016, I have been all about learning every thing I can about the history of Maine's capital city.

During a recent meal at a downtown Augusta restaurant, I believe it was Otto's On The River, I saw a mention of there being a tunnel under Water Street.  I knew I had to do some more investigating.


The Tunnel Under Water Street

According to the Augusta - A Capital Maine Happening Facebook page and the Historic Markers Database website, E C Allen Publishing Company was a producer of mail periodicals and, reportedly, came up with the idea to sell subscriptions to magazines.  Basically, they were the forerunner to modern advertising and marketing agencies.

Originally, the company had a building on the east side of Water Street.  As the business expanded, Allen needed more space.  In 1880, he built a new six story office building directly across the street from the original building.  The two buildings, both in use at this point, were connected by a tunnel that ran under Water Street.

The six story building was reportedly demolished in 1987.  Key Plaza sits on part of the building's former footprint.  The original E C Allen building is still in use today.  It is home to Otto's On The River.  We have not been able to find any information on the tunnel.  So, maybe it still exists or maybe if was filled in long ago.

Google Maps
Google Maps


Do you know of a weird or cool Maine history fact that you want to share with us?  Just message us through our radio station app!

LOOK: Things from the year you were born that don't exist anymore

The iconic (and at times silly) toys, technologies, and electronics have been usurped since their grand entrance, either by advances in technology or breakthroughs in common sense. See how many things on this list trigger childhood memories—and which ones were here and gone so fast you missed them entirely.

More From B98.5