7 Smith Court // c.1805

This two-story Federal home was built at the turn of the 19th century at the end of Smith Court, a short dead-end street in Beacon Hill. African American Joseph E. Scarlett owned this building from 1857 until his death in 1898. Scarlett, who lived across the street at 2 Smith Court, mostly rented 7 Smith Court to other African Americans. This practice was started as early as 1822 by 7 Smith Court’s previous owner, a white merchant Elihu Bates. Joseph Scarlett was the son of John E. Scarlett, who was a chimney sweeper, a clothing dealer, and a grocer. By the time of his death in 1898, Joseph owned fifteen different properties in Boston, Cambridge, and Charlestown. In his will, Scarlett left bequests to the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church and to the Home for Aged Colored Women on Myrtle Street. The home likely had the oriel (2nd story bay window) added by the mid-to-late 19th century, presumably to allow more light into the building on the narrow alley.

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