Historic Markers: Dorchester

William Monroe Trotter House - 97 Sawyer Avenue*

William Monroe Trotter, the first African American Phi Beta Kappa, a Harvard graduate and co-founder of the Guardian newspaper, lived in this house from 1899 to 1909. Trotter formed the Boston Suffrage League and actively spoke out against American racism in the early 1900s. Considered a radical, he opposed the accommodations racial policies of his time.

Baker Chocolate - 1231 Adams Street

In 1765, itinerant Irish chocolatier John Hannon established a chocolate mill-the nation's first-at Lower Mills. His partner, James Baker, took over the business in 1780 and named it Baker Chocolate. Baker remained a major Dorchester industry until 1965 when production moved to Delaware. Many buildings from the Baker complex remain, including this Georgian Revival structure. Baker Chocolate developed one of the earliest U.S. trademarks, "La Belle Chocolatiere." She is still featured on Baker packaging today.

Click to view historic image.

Blake House - Edward Everett Square*

The Blake House, built about 1650, is one of the two oldest buildings in Boston. The original occupant, Deacon James Blake, emigrated from England in 1635. Blake, active in public affairs, serving as a constable, town selectman, and Deputy to the General Court. The house was moved to its present location in 1895 by the Dorchester Historical Society, and is the first recorded instance of a historic structure being moved to avert demolition.

Boston Home – 2049 Dorchester Ave.

Originally called the Boston Home for Incurables, the Boston Home was founded in 1881 by Cordelian Harmon, a nurse from Massachusetts General Hospital, in collaboration with Reverend Phillips Books, an advocate for social service. The Home provided care for permanently disabled and chronically ill for whom there was no other provision in hospitals or at home. It was "open to all classes of the worth poor without distinction of race or religion." By the beginning of the 21st century, The Boston Home developed into a national model for care of adults with advanced progressive neurological diseases, primarily multiple sclerosis.

Calf Pasture Pumping Station - Access Road, Columbia Point 

This unique pumping structure was Boston's first sewage pumping station, created to eliminate unhealthy conditions in crowded neighborhoods. The marshlands of Harbor Point, used for grazing since the 1600s, gave the station its name. It was designed in 1883 by city architect George A. Clough. The brick and stone structure incorporates Queen Anne and Romanesque styles. In an innovative centralized system, the waste of the entire city was received at this remote station, where massive steam engines pumped it to the outer harbor. The technology made it a model for sanitation worldwide.

Clap Family Orchards Site

The Clap Orchards ran from Boston Street to the salt marshes of South Bay; the farm was part of the original land grant made to Roger Clap in 1630. Today, many streets in the area are named after varieties of pears grown on the estate, including Mt. Vernon, Dorset and Bellflower. After the Revolution, New England farmers developed new cash crops; in the early 19th century, the Claps experimented with pear hybrids. The most popular was Clap's Favorite, introduced by Lemuel Clap in 1840. Despite residential growth, the orchards remained here into the 20th century.

Congregation Beth El Site - 94 Fowler St.

Temple Beth El, known as the Fowler Street Shul, was the first synagogue in Dorchester. Dedicated in 1912, the neoclassical building with a domed roof was designed by South Boston architect John Hasty. The only wooden temple built in Boston, it was modeled after the 1763 Touro, Rhode Island synagogue.

The temple sat in the heart of Boston’s emerging Jewish community, and remained the spiritual focal point for Dorchester until 1967 when the congregation moved to Newton. The temple was razed in 1998 for the Erie Ellington Homes, an affordable housing development that has won awards for its use of sustainable technology and is a model for urban housing.

Dorchester North Burying Ground - Columbia Rd. and Stoughton St.

Established in 1633, this site is Dorchester's earliest remaining landmark and one of only six 17th century burial grounds in Boston. Settled in 1630 as a farming community, this is the burying place of the town's original settlers (Blakes, Capens, and Clapp) as well as other notables including John Foster, Boston's first printer, prominent minister Richard Mather and William Stoughton, Chief Justice of the witch trial courts. The burying ground is distinguished by its fine funerary sculpture and gravestones spanning four centuries.

Dorchester Pottery Works - 101-105 Victory Rd.*

Founded in 1895 by George Henderson, the Dorchester Pottery Works illustrates early 20th century pottery making technology. Dorchester stoneware is known for its distinctive cobalt blue hand glazing on white, buff and grey tableware as well as its commercial and industrial wares.

The last original building is this 1914 brick beehive kiln, in continuous use until 1965, and one of the few extant kilns of its type in the U.S. Firing at temperatures over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the kiln took about two weeks to load, fire, cool and unload, and consumed about fifteen tons of coal and four cords of wood.

Dorchester South Burying Ground - Dorchester Ave.

Established in 1814 to relieve overcrowding in Dorchester North Burying Ground, this site illustrates the development of the community and rural cemetery movement. In the 1830s, Samuel Downer and newly-formed Massachusetts Horticultural Society advised the town on the park-like layout and ornamentation of the burying ground. The markers and monuments exhibit a wide range of styles and materials, which serve as an archive of the outdoor sculptural movement that flourished in the early 19th century.

Grace Lonergan Lorch - 1060 Morton St.

In 1943, while teaching at the Charles Taylor School, Grace Lorch became the first woman to challenge Boston’s 19th-century policy requiring the resignation of female teachers upon marriage. Unwilling to see her students suffer, she continued to teach her class at a substitute teacher’s salary.

A lifelong activist for educational and civil rights, Lorch later moved to Tennessee with her family. She received national attention in 1957, when she rescued a young girl from an angry crowd protesting the desegregation of public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Lemuel Clapp House - 199 Boston St.

The gambrel-roofed house was built about 1710 by descendants of Roger Clapp, one of Dorchester's original settlers. The Clapp family settled here on the rich farm lands of Dorchester Neck, a district soon noted for its fine orchards. In 1767, the simple two-room homestead was purchased by a cousin, Lemuel Clapp. Lemuel, who later served in the Revolution, remodeled the house as a country mansion. In 1957, the house was moved 200 yards from its location on nearby Willow Court to its present site and restored to its conjectured original appearance by the Dorchester Historical Society.

Savin Hill

This area is the site of Dorchester's first permanent settlement in 1630. The passengers of the Mary and John, a ship which sailed from Plymouth, England, took advantage of the salt marshes in this area for pasturage, and a rocky hill for defense. The 1822 Tuttle House, Boston's first seaside hotel, and the opening of the Old Colony Railroad in 1844 led to a century of development. While Queen Anne and Colonial Revival inspired dwellings predominate, Craftsman, Gothic, Italianate, Second Empire, and Shingle style also characterize this well-preserved residential enclave.

Lucy Stone House Site - 45 Boutwell St. (Boston Women's Heritage Trail)

Women's rights advocate Lucy Stone (1818-1893) and her husband, reformer Henry Blackwell, moved to a home on this site in 1869. After earning a college degree (the first Bay State woman to do so), Stone began working to end slavery. Angry that women were segregated at abolition meetings, she helped organize a convention for women's rights in Worcester in 1850.

As editor of The Women's Journal, Stone became the leading voice of the woman's suffrage cause in New England. She died at her Pope's Hill home in 1893, never seeing women gain the vote. The house was demolished in 1971.
Boston Women's Heritage Trail

Strand Theater - 543 Columbia Rd.

This 1918 Classical Revival-style movie palace was one of the first in Boston designed specifically for motion pictures and is probably the only remaining vintage neighborhood theater. Hollywood and Broadway stars from Jack Benny to Duke Ellington appeared here. The opulent interior is a reminder of an earlier time when movies were screened in elegant surroundings.

After a mid-century decline a massive restoration effort brought the Strand back as a cultural and entertainment center for a new generation and a broad audience.


* Indicates Designated Boston Landmark