Saint Johnís Seminary Urban Wild, a landscaped campus, is considered the largest open space in Brighton. The Wild, now owned by Boston College, includes the grounds of Saint Johnís Seminary. Although privately owned, the Seminary lands are open informally for local neighbors, students, and visitors. The undulating topography of the property boasts a 116-foot variance in elevation. The lowest points being the ball fields to the north and the highest points include forested areas along Lake Street and Commonwealth Avenue.
This cultivated Urban Wild represents an interesting, if inadvertent, example of landscape conservation. Two former nineteenth century Brighton estates were incorporated to develop Saint Johnís Seminary. Though developed the property retains the aesthetic of the old New England landscape of open fields and adjoining woodlots. Administrative buildings near the north of the property enjoy a sweeping vista of the grand lawn dotted with old cedars and apple trees. To the distant north the Cenacles Urban Wild forms a significant backdrop to the dormitories, ball fields, and shade trees of the Seminary.
Two woodlots, representing intact plant communities, lay to the west along the propertyís border with Lake Street. The woodlots are believed to be remnants of the former estates. The upper woodlot, beginning near Commonwealth Avenue and running north, represents an upland oak community. Red oak, white oak, low bush blueberry, and bush honeysuckle are common. The lower, and smaller, woodlot of Canadian hemlock and white pine covers the north facing slope near Lake Streetís junction with Lake Shore Road.
Saint Johnís Seminary Urban Wild contains a number of surprises to delight adventurous visitors. The mausoleum of Cardinal William Henry OíConnell stands in the center of the property. The stone structure is shaded and cooled by a grove of white pine, Norway spruce, and overgrown yews. Adjacent to the gymnasium, hidden by a ring of overgrown conifers, is a small concrete dipping pool, presumably used to cool overheated acolytes. Wildlife, including fox and red-tailed hawks are quite common.