Everett Schoolhouse // 1860-1965

c. 1910 image courtesy of Boston City Archives.

The Everett Schoolhouse opened in 1860 as Boston’s most modern school at the time, serving students in the South End and Roxbury. The school was located on Northampton Street, just off Tremont Street, and stood four stories with lawns surrounding it. The building was architecturally beautiful, with brick walls and stone trim and basement, large double-hung windows, and a slate roof capped by a bell tower. The building was so special, the opening ceremonies were documented in the New York Times in 1860. The school was named after Edward Everett (1794-1865), a Boston-native who served as a U.S. Senator, the 15th Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain, and United States Secretary of State. He also taught at Harvard University and served as its president. My favorite tidbit of history on Edward Everett is that he was a great orator, and was the featured speaker at the dedication ceremony of the Gettysburg National Cemetery in 1863, where he spoke for over two hours—immediately before President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous two-minute Gettysburg Address! The Everett Schoolhouse in Boston saw thousands of children graduate before a fire on the top floor of the building in 1965 and subsequent water damage from fire hoses necessitated its demolition.

Newcastle Court // c.1907

Newcastle Court in Boston’s South End/Lower Roxbury neighborhoods is one of the finest apartment buildings in the city built in the early 20th century. The complex is U-shaped with a central courtyard off Columbus Street, to provide air and natural light in all bedrooms and units of the building. Newcastle Court was built by builder/developer Israel Nesson, who was credited as building the first fireproof apartment building in the city. Nesson and his family built and owned apartment buildings all over Boston and Cambridge, and operated many of them as landlords with massive real estate holdings. Newcastle Court stands out for the garden courtyard set behind the gate. At the back of the courtyard, the building has a raised parapet at the roof, which encompasses a clock. Many of the units retain the original stained glass windows, which are AMAZING!

Columbus Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church // 1885

The Columbus Avenue African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church sits on the border of the South End and Lower Roxbury neighborhoods and is a great example of how the area evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries. The beautiful Romanesque Revival building was constructed in 1885 as the first synagogue of Congregation Adath Israel, which was founded in 1854. The congregation sought more space from its current location, and a closer place of worship for many of the German Jews who settled in Boston’s South End. They built this synagogue in 1885 and eventually moved west to a new Kenmore Square synagogue less than thirty years later as the neighborhood’s demographics began to shift. In 1903, the A.M.E. Zion Church purchased the former synagogue as their new home. This congregation had its beginnings in 1838 when seventeen African Americans withdrew from the communion of the Methodist Episcopal Church, then located on Joy Street in Beacon Hill. This group of Black worshippers wanted more religious freedom and desired to become part parcel of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion connection under the leadership of their own race. For many years, this church was the largest and principal Black church in the city of Boston. In 1903, shortly after moving to Columbus Avenue, the church experienced what was called the “Boston Riot.” The church hosted a debate between Booker T. Washington and William Monroe Trotter, editor and publisher of the “Boston Guardian”. Trotter, a Black Bostonian, opposed the gradual conservative approach to civil and political rights as promulgated by Mr. Washington. The debate took place on July 3, 1903 and the church was packed with over 2,000 spectators. Shortly after the opening prayer by Pastor McMullen of the AME Church, Washington was introduced. A disturbance then erupted with Trotter eventually being arrested for disturbing the peace. This building is the oldest synagogue building in Massachusetts and has been a center of Black life in Boston ever since the beginning of the 20th century.

First Church in Roxbury

First Church in Roxbury // 1804 // Federal Style //

2019 Image
2019 Image

The First Church in Roxbury has been in continuous use since early English settlers built the first meetinghouse on this site in 1632. The church building you see today dates back to 1804. It is the fifth meetinghouse built on this site. First Church in Roxbury is the oldest wooden frame church in Boston, and is an excellent example of the Federal Meetinghouse style.

1920 Image (Digital Commonwealth)

English settlers began arriving in the area, originally named Roxborough, in 1630. The first congregation gathered in 1631 and by 1632 settlers completed their first meetinghouse: a small, simple building with a thatched roof.
Roxbury’s famous minister, Rev. John Eliot, arrived in Boston in 1631 and began serving at the First Church in Roxbury in 1632. John Eliot became known as the “Apostle to the Indians” for preaching to Native Americans, training them to be ministers in their communities, and translating the Bible into the Algonquin language. Eliot also fought against selling Native Americans into slavery, and was instrumental in establishing free education for residents of Roxbury and other nearby towns.

1873 Hopkins Map


In 2013, Historic Boston Inc worked with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Boston to complete a comprehensive assessment of the building and prepare for its restoration which has been completed fairly recently.