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to 1630: Prior to 1630: Dorchester area known
as Mattapan, inhabited by Wampanoag Indians.
Dorchester is first settled at Five Corners (today
Edward Everett Square). Originally, Dorchester includes
Canton, Foxboro, Wrentham, Milton, Stoughton, and
Sharon. The first houses are built near the first
meetinghouse near present day Pleasant and East Cottage
streets and near to Rock (Savin) Hill. A fort is constructed
on Savin Hill.
Chickatawbut, chief of the Massachuset tribe (Neponset
family) dies. Legend claims that he greeted the newly
arrived English with fish and a handshake.
Dorchester North Burying Ground is established
at Stoughton Street and Columbia Road at Uphams Corner.
Israel Stoughton operated a grist mill at Lower Mills
on the Neponset River.
Jone's Hill is named after early settler Thomas
Jones. In the nineteenth century, the hill was the
site of some of Boston's most elegant homes. Today
the area is home to a large Hispanic population.
November 8, 1638 is the first recorded date on
a headstone in the Dorchester Burying Ground. It belongs
to Barnard Capen.
The first school in the United States is constructed
on Settler's Street (today Pleasant Street). The school
is paid for using fees charged to farmers for grazing
on nearby Thompson's Island.
The James Blake House is constructed. It is the
oldest wood-framed structure in the City of Boston
and the only surviving example of West-England construction.
The Blake House is open to the public.
An early example of a Puritan residence is the
Pierce House built at 24 Oakton Avenue.
Present day Warren and Washington Streets are
laid "four rods wide."
The first "Indian Reservation" in United
States history is established at Ponkapoag for the Neponset tribe.
Wassausamon, a Dorchester Indian, is killed. His
death is one of the precipitating events in King Phillip's
Sir William Phips leads an ill-fated naval expedition
of thirty-two vessels containing over 2,000 men in
an attack on Quebec. Dorchester contributes a company
of seventy-four men under the command of Captain John
Withington. Forty-six of them never return.
Lower Mills is home to a wool sizing mill, a gun
powder mill, a paper mill, a snuff mill, and a saw
Wrentham is set off from the town of Dorchester.
Jeremiah Smith (b. 1705 Ireland) founds the first
paper factory in the United States. Part of Dorchester
breaks away to become the town of Stoughton.
The Lemuel Clap House is built at Willow Court
for Captain Lemuel Clap. It is moved to 199 Boston
Street in 1957. He is a tanner who becomes an officer
during the Revolutionary War. That same year, Dr.
James Baker opens The Baker Chocolate Company. A Reverend
with a Harvard degree, Dr. Baker establishes a cocoa
bean grinding business that is soon expanded into
a profitable company. Baker Chocolate is later bought
by General Foods Corporation and moved out of state.
300 Sons of Liberty, led by John Hancock meet
at Robinson's Tavern which adapts a new name: The
Liberty Tree Tavern.
Canons are moved from Fort Ticonderoga, New York
to Dorchester Heights to take aim at the British ships
in the harbor. The British evacuate Boston on March
Mrs. Judith Foster Saunders and Miss Clementia
Beach establish Saunders' and Beach's Academy for
Girls on Meeting House Hill. In addition to sewing,
embroidery and painting-the French language, arithmetic,
geography, writing and English grammar are studied.
South Boston is annexed to Boston.
The Second Church is constructed on Washington
1806: The William Clapp House is built for Lemuel
Clapp's son, William. The house is a Federal style
structure with a Greek Revival wing and pear trees
in the backyard. Several generations of the Clapp
family celebrate Golden Wedding Anniversaries in the
house, so that it becomes known as the House of Golden
Wedding Anniversaries. Today it is a museum and a
meeting place for the Dorchester Historical Society.
The Boston and Providence Railroad comes to town.
Thadeus Clapp, son of William Clapp, creates a
hybrid pear in the family orchards by crossing the
Flemish Beauty Pear with a Bartlett. He calls his
creation "Clapp's Favorite Pear." It becomes
a popular variety and brings considerable income to
Old Colony Railroad arrives bringing wealthy Yankees
who build Victorian summer homes and estates on Savin
and Jones Hills. Immigrant Irish also arrive on the
Abraham Lincoln visits Dorchester and speaks at
Richmond Hall on Washington Street in support of presidential
candidate Zachary Taylor.
Hyde Park is incorporated out of part of Dorchester.
Dorchester is annexed to Boston after a vote of
928 to 726.
The Municipal Building is constructed in the Victorian
style at Field's Corner. Mattapan, the original Native
American name for the area, is given to the southwest
section of town.
The Calf Pasture Pumping station at Columbia Point,
designed by City Architect George A. Clough, becomes
Boston's first sewage station.
Poles, Jews, Lithuanians, Italians, and French-Canadians
begin to settle in the town.
House of William Monroe Trotter
(b. 1872) is built at 97 Sawyer Avenue. He is an African-American
writer, lecturer, and publisher who fights against
All Saints' Church is built at Peabody Square.
This building is the first job of famous architect
Ralph Adams Cram. He later gains a national
reputation for his work on the Cathedral of St. John
the Divine in New York City.
St. Margaret's Church is built on Columbia Road
and Dorchester Avenue. The Romanesque style brick
building, designed by Keeley and Houghton, is distinguished
by its corner tower, rounded arches, and decorative
terra cotta tiles. The church complex includes a rectory
and a later school.
The Dorchester Pottery Works is established on
Victory Road. Until it closes in 1965, the company
produces hand crafted tablewares which are now collector's
The First Church is rebuilt on Meetinghouse Hill.
It is the seventh building inhabited by the congregation
since its establishment in 1630.
The High School at Codman Square is designed by
Hartwell, Richardson, and Dyer, a noted architecture
company of the time. Jews move into Franklin Field
and Mount Bowdoin (designed by Frederick Law Olmsted)
from the West End.
Beth El is founded on Fowler Street.
A statue of Edward Everett, designed by William
Wetmore Story in 1867, is moved from its spot in the
Public Garden to Five Corners, now known as Everett
Square. After twice being struck by traffic the statue
is placed near the Olde Blake House in Richardson
park on Columbia Road.
The Strand Theater opens and quickly becomes a
popular stop on the vaudeville circuit.
Upham's Corner Market is built at 600 Columbia
Road. There, the Cifrinos brothers develop the ancestor
of the modern supermarket in three connected buildings.
Their modest fruit and vegetable store is expanded
to include meats, staples, dairy products, a delicatessen,
bakery, cafeteria, newsstand, soda fountain, and shoe
repair shop. The store even has a huge parking lot
African-Americans from the South migrate north
to Dorchester looking for work and buying homes. The
Jews move further out to suburbs outside of the City,
including Randolph, Canton, and Newton.
La Donna Andrea Gaines is born at Carney Hospital.
She later takes the name Donna Summer and wins several
1970s: Boston Banks set up Boston Bank Urban Renewal
Group (BBURG) area in the wake of Martin Luther King,
Jr's assassination, and in an effort to help African-Americans
who do not own homes to buy them as a way of quelling
social unrest. The primarily Jewish area Dorchester
neighborhoods near Gallivan and Blue Hill avenues
is the center of this "blue lined" area where mortgages
at below market rates, and small downpayments are
offered to African-American families from the South
End and Roxbury as an incentive to buy housing. Many
Jews move out of Weld Hill area and other Dorchester
neighborhoods quite precipitously in '68 and '69 as
some local real estate agents use the fear of African-Americans
moving in as an inducement to get the Jews to sell
their homes at below market value, only to resell
to African-Americans at much higher prices due to
the Federally-financed low downpayments. The BBURG
"bluelining" becomes quite well known locally and
nationally, in the late 1970s with a United States
Senate investigation. The G&G Delicatessen on Blue
Hill Avenue, which had been a symbol of Jewish Dorchester
closes in the mid-1970s, a symbol of the change in
and 1980s: Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans,
Haitians, and Cape Verdeans move into Dorchester neighborhoods.
Emigrants from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia
settle in the area.
The Massachusetts State Archives at Columbia Point
The Lemuel Clapp and the William Clapp houses
on Boston Street serve as locations for several scenes
in WGBH's documentary series "Africans in America."
- Dorchester. The Boston 200 Neighborhood History Series. Boston:
Boston 200 Corporation, 1976.
Levine and Lawrence Harmon. The Death of an American
Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions.
New York: Free Press, 1992.
- Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Dorchester. Images of America Series.
Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 1997.