Historic Markers: Roxbury

Abbotsford - 300 Walnut Street

Built in 1872 for prominent industrialist Aaron Davis Williams Jr., Abbotsford was designed of Roxbury puddingstone by Boston architect Alden Frink. The structure, originally named Oak Bend, is a rare example of a Victorian Gothic-style villa in Boston and a reminder of Roxbury's 19th century prosperity. The home was once part of an estate known for its apple orchards; it later served as a school for delinquent boys. It was purchased in 1976 by the National Center of Afro-American artists and renovated for use as a museum dedicated to the collection and exhibition of the black visual arts heritage worldwide.

Blue Hill Avenue Synagogue - 397 Blue Hill Avenue

Designed by architect Frederick Norcross and built in 1905, the Blue Hill Avenue Synagogue illustrates both the early Jewish presence in Roxbury and the changing demographics of the area. Financed by the Adath Jeshurun congregation, it was erected at a center of Jewish activity in early 20th century Boston. In 1967, with Roxbury no longer the focal point of the Jewish community, the temple was sold to Ecclesia Apostolic. The First Haitian Baptist Church purchased the Late Romanesque Revival building in 1978 and restored it to its present state. 

Cox Building - John Eliot Square*

Built in 1870 by developer G.D. Cox, this building typifies the post-Civil War transformation of Roxbury from an independent rural town of farms and country estates to a fashionable suburban neighborhood. The Cox Building originally consisted of a central section containing street-level stores with hotel rooms on the upper floors, flanked by five attached one-family residences. The Cox Building was rehabilitated in 1984 by Historic Boston Incorporated.

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New England Hospital for Women and Children - 55 Dimock St.

Dr. Marie Zakrewska (1829-1902) founded this hospital in 1862. As a woman she was not allowed to practice in Boston, but she and her colleagues strove to advance women's medical care and medical education. Other women remembered here are Linda Richards, America's first trained nurse; Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first African-American trained nurse; and Dr. Susan Dimock, surgeon and founder of the hospital's nursing school.

Edward Everett Hale House - 12 Morley St.

This Greek Revival residence was the home of Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) for forty years. A Unitarian clergyman and well-known humanitarian reformer, Hale was also the author of The Man Without a Country, as well as other popular novels. The house was built on Highland Street in 1841 during Roxbury's early period of suburban growth, and was moved to this location between 1899 and 1906. Historic Boston Incorporated restored the exterior from 1985 to 1992 with funds from the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Eliot Burying Ground - Eustis St.

This is Roxbury's earliest cemetery, established in 1630. The burying ground is named for Rev. John Eliot, Christian missionary to the native peoples of the Neponset. Eliot is buried in the Parish Tomb, along with other early ministers of the First Parish of Roxbury. Two colonial governors are interred in the Dudley family tomb, which dates from 1653. Members of the renowned clockmaking family, the Willards, were buried here in the 1840's when Roxbury was a manufacturing center.

First Church of Roxbury - John Eliot Square

The oldest wood frame church in Boston, this 1804 structure is the fifth meetinghouse on this site since the first church was built in 1632. The architect, William Blaney, was a church member and housewright. The land around it is a fragment of the original Roxbury town common. Its most famous pastor was Reverend John Eliot (1604-1690), the missionary to the Algonquin Indians. Due to Eliot's work, First Church in Roxbury was one of only three churches in the Puritan Massachusetts era to admit Native Americans as full memebers.

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Freedom House - 14 Crawford St.

Established in 1949 by social workers Otto and Muriel Snowden, the Freedom House is an important social, educational and political organization and gathering place for the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain. It has been at the center of key political movements in Boston, including urban renewal in the 1960s, the busing crisis of the 1970s, and education reform for the city's children beginning in the 1990s. Also central to the mission of the Freedom House is academic, financial and social support for college-bound students.

The Landing Place - 500 Parker St.

This was one of two public boat-landing sites that served the town of Roxbury in colonial times. In 1658, John Pierpont built a tidal mill here at the point where the Stony Brook emptied into the tidal basin. During the Revolution, George Washington directed the residents to build a redoubt (an earthen fortification) to protect the landing from the British. In 1821, the Mill Dam was built to furnish power from tidal mills for a variety of industries. The Sewall and Day Cordage Mill was built here in 1834, becoming the largest manufacturer of rope used in maritime trades.

Malcolm X and Ella Little-Collins House - 72 Dale St.*

This was the home of Ella Little-Collins (1912-1996), a noted educator and sister of activist and Muslim leader Malcolm X (1925-1965), who lived here in the early 1940's. Ella acted as a surrogate parent to Malcolm, encouraging him to study theology and law during his incarceration. Embracing the cause of black empowerment, Malcolm returned to Boston in 1953 and founded Temple Number Eleven. After visiting the holy city of Mecca in 1964, Malcolm rejected black-separatism and adopted the name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. One of the most influential African-Americans of his era, he was assassinated in 1965.

Palladio Hall - 60-62 Warren St.

Built in the late 1870s, Palladio Hall is a rare Boston example of an Italian Renaissance-style commercial block. It was designed and owned by Nathaniel J. Bradlee, one of the city's most prolific architects. Clad and ornamented in Ohio sandstone and detailed with cast-iron storefronts, the building's imposing presence is a visual anchor for Dudley Square.

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Shirley Eustis House - 33 Shirley St.

Built in 1747-1750 by the royal governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, William Shirley, this mansion is one of only four remaining colonial governors' mansions in the United States. The architecture is attributed to Peter Harrison "the first American architect."
The house served as a barracks during the Siege of Boston in 1775-6, housing the Continental Army's Sixth Regiment of Foot. From 1823 to 1825 it was the home of Massachusetts Governor William Eustis, the first democrat to hold that post.

Spooner-Lambert House - 64 Bartlett St.

Built in 1782 for Major John Jones Spooner, first commander of the Roxbury Artillery, this Georgian structure has served as a private residence, a home for elderly women, and an apartment house. Boston merchant Capt. William Lambert bought the house in 1788, added Federal details and landscaped the grounds. The physical characteristics of the building were altered with each change in ownership, reflecting Roxbury's three centuries of growth. Historic Boston Incorporated saved and rehabilitated the house in 1992.

William Lloyd Garrison House - Highland Park St.

This Greek Revival residence was the home of William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), leader of the anti-slavery cause in Boston and fiery editor of the uncompromising abolition journal The Liberator. Deeply influenced by charismatic black leader David Walker (1785-1830), Garrison fought all his life for not only the end of slavery but for equal rights participation and integration of African-American citizens. The house, called Rockledge, was built in the 1840's, during Roxbury's early period of suburban growth. After seeing emancipation achieved, Garrison and his wife retired to his mansion in 1864.

Cedar Street Marble Row Houses: 28-40 Cedar St.

This marble-clad block is an elaborate example of Second Empire Style row house design, a French style popular at the time of Roxbury’s annexation to Boston in 1868. Built by George D. Cox in 1871, the row houses were an attempt to attract other speculative developers to Roxbury Highlands by creating the base for a stylish, middle class urban square. In 1983 Historic Boston Incorporated provided financial and technical support to Urban Edge, which developed the dilapidated houses in order to provide affordable home ownership opportunities.

Hibernian Hall: Dudley Square

Hibernian Hall was one of the last of Dudley Square’s lively Irish social clubs and dance halls, serving Roxbury’s Irish community during the first half of the twentieth century. Built in 1913 for the Hibernian Building Association of Roxbury, this building served as a lodge for several divisions of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). The AOH began in 1836 in New York as a response to anti-Irish sentiment, and later shifted to charitable work and the promotion and preservation of Irish cultural heritage.

* Indicates Designated Boston Landmark