Canterbury Shaker Meeting House // 1792

The Canterbury Shaker Village was one of two Shaker communities existing in present-day New Hampshire (the other being Enfield Shaker Village, featured previously on here). In 1782 Israel Chauncey and Ebeneezer Cooley from the Mount Lebanon village of Shakers traveled to Canterbury and converted several prominent figures of the community by convincing some of the Christian farmers that the Shaker way was what they had been seeking. Among those converted to the Shakers, the Whitcher, Wiggin and Sanborn families, donated land to house the Canterbury Village community of Shakers and the Canterbury Village was founded in 1792, led by Father Job Bishop. The village expanded over time, and in 1803 there were 159 members in three families. Nearly fifty years later in 1850, the site contained 3,000 acres with a community of 300 housed in 100 buildings!

The first building of the Canterbury Village was the Meeting House. The Gambrel roofed building was constructed by members in reverent silence and supervised by Moses Johnson (1752-1842) who served as master builder of seven Shaker meetinghouses all over the Northeast. Inside, there were two stairways, one for men and one for women, located in the northwest and southwest corners of the building, each easily accessed by separate entrances, which led brothers and sisters from the first floor meeting room to the second story sleeping lofts.

In 1992, Canterbury Shaker Village closed, leaving only Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village open as a functioning community. There are apparently only two active Shakers left in the country, both at Sabbathday Lake in Maine. Many other villages like Canterbury, have been converted to museums, which give historians and the general public a great insight into how these places have functioned.

Abiel Smith School // 1834

The Abiel Smith School, located at 46 Joy Street, was constructed between 1834 and 1835. It was built by the City of Boston to house the African School and was one of the earliest buildings designed by architect Richard Upjohn. Starting in 1787, many black Bostonians fought tirelessly against the inequality and discrimination in public schools. At that early date, numerous community members, including Prince Hall, petitioned the state legislature claiming that it was unjust for their taxes to support the education of white children when the city had no school for black children. However, a small number of African American children did attend the city’s white schools in the early 1800s.

In 1798, sixty members of the black community organized the African School in order to educate their children. In 1815 white businessman Abiel Smith died and bequeathed $4,000 for the education of African American children in Boston. The school committee used interest from this money to fund the African School and they later used a portion of it to construct the Abiel Smith School. The school was opened on March 3, 1835, but the conditions in this school were inferior to those of the white schools in Boston and the black community continued to fight for equal opportunities in education. The school has since been acquired by the Museum of African American History.

Somerville Museum // 1925

Located at the end of Westwood Road, facing Central Street in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Somerville is the gorgeous Somerville Museum (Somerville Historical Society). The Museum building is a two-story Federal Revival building, executed in red brick, with brick quoins at its
corners. The front façade has an enclosed pediment, with a circular window in the middle. The centrally placed double entry doors on Central Street are surmounted by a fanlight with interlaced mullions and has a Federal Revival pedimented surround.

In 1897, a group of businessmen, religious, social, cultural, educational and municipal leaders came together to found the Somerville Historical Society with many of these founding members were descendants of the original settlers. Between 1925 and 1929, the building was built as place for the members to meet and organize their artifacts and library. Designed by George Loring and William Dykeman, the building is a very well-preserved example of the Federal Revival style.