Home > Boston's Neighborhoods
> Jamaica Plain
more about your ancestor's neighborhood through the
timeline, find more information in the Further Reading
section, or use the links to experience life in that
Area around Jamaica Pond was a summer camp for Wampanoags
who wintered near the Neponset River in Mattapan.
Some feel that the name for "Jamaica" is the corruption
of an Indian Chief's name from the 1640s.
- 1640: The Road to Dedham (today Centre Street) and the Dedham
Turnpike (today Washington Street) are the main streets
in town. Originally part of the Town of Roxbury (1631)
the area that is now known as Jamaica Plain was settled
slowly for its first forty years.
- 1683: Although not officially chartered as a town, Jamaica Plain
is mentioned in the Roxbury town records.
- 1689: Roxbury Reverend John Eliot (1604-1690),
"Apostle to the Indians," donates seventy-five
acres for a school. Eliot stipulates that the school
admit children of all races: white, African American,
and Native American. The school is not officially
incorporated until 1804. It is remodeled in 1889.
- 1755: Linden Hall is built on Centre and Pond Streets for Reverend
John Troutbeck, assistant rector of King's Chapel,
distiller, and loyalist. It is named for the linden
trees that used to flank the walkway.
- 1760: The Third Parish is organized under William Gordon (1730-1807),
a minister who advocates freedom and equality for
all men and the eradication of slavery. Nearby, the
Loring-Greenough House is constructed. The house is
owned by Commodore Joshua Loring, a privateer, British
Navy veteran, and agent of the English Crown. He is
forced to flee in 1774 by patriots. The house is used
as a hospital for General George Washington's troops
during the Revolution.
- 1769: The Congregational Society of the Third Parish Church is
built using funds donated by Benjamin and Suzanna
Pemberton. It is later renamed the First Congregational
Society of Jamaica Plain.
- 1777: John Hancock moves to Jamaica Plain after resigning from
presidency of the Congress of the United States.
- 1794: Former Governor Samuel Adams moves to the 40 acre Peacock
- 1815: Benjamin Bussey (1757-1842), Revolutionary War veteran
and goldsmith, builds the Woodland Hills estate where
he had an 18,000 volume personal library. It is later
the home of Thomas Lothrop Motley, a president of
the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture.
- 1826: Omnibuses, "The Hourlies," run hourly to Boston
carrying passengers for 25 cents.
- 1834: The Boston and Providence Railroad runs through town bringing
Factories built along Stoney Brook. Poorer immigrants
begin to move into housing built next to the factories.
- 1848: Forest Hills Cemetery is constructed. It is created out
of the John Seaverns Farm by Henry A.S. Dearborn (1783-1851),
Mayor of Roxbury and president of the Massachusetts
Horticultural Society. The cemetery is a mixture of
graves, monuments, and natural landscape. The Crematory
in the cemetery is the first in the country. The first
person cremated is Lucy Stone (1818-1893), the first
female from Massachusetts to graduate from college
(Oberlin), as well as the first woman editor (The
Women's Journal). She keeps her maiden name when she
marries, which also may have been a first.
to 1880s: Breweries built in the part of Jamaica
Plain near the Roxbury town line (now Jackson Sq.).
German immigrants settle near there, and around Hyde
- 1851: West Roxbury, including Roslindale and Jamaica Plain, secedes
- 1852: William Hyslop Sumner (1780-1861), the developer of East
Boston, has a mansion on Sumner Hill, Roanoke Street.
- 1853: The First Parish Church is built on South and Centre Streets
by Nathaniel J. Bradlee. It now stands next to the
Civil War Monument erected in 1871.
- 1858: H.R. Hunt paints Skating on Jamaica Pond, a representation
of the popular outdoor activities on the frozen kettle
pond. The pond is also used as a reservoir by the
Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Company and for ice harvesting.
Curtis Hall is built as the own Hall at Monument Square.
Jamaica Plain is the town center for the Town West
Roxbury with the town hall and the police station
on Seaverns Avenue.
- 1872: The 265-acre Benjamin Bussey (1757-1842) estate, a gift
to the town, is developed into the Arnold Arboretum and
named after New Bedford benefactor John Arnold. The
Arboretum, part of which is in Roslindale, features
some of the finest tree and plant specimens in the
world. The first president of the Arboretum is Charles
Sprague Sargent, Harvard professor and cousin of painter
John Singer Sargent.
- 1874: Jamaica Plain is annexed to Boston after being part of
Roxbury and West Roxbury.
- 1876: The Allandale Mineral Spring Water Pavilion opens. Renowned
as a healing spring, it attracts many visitors with
its advertisements claiming it can cure "dyspepsia,
kidney problems, diabetes, gravel, canker, dropsy,
catarrh, nervousness, bladder diseases, constipation,
eczema, and all skin diseases."
- 1877: Led by Caroline H. Morse, The Footlights Drama Club is
founded as a social and drama club. The first production
is a comedy entitled A Scrap of Paper.
- 1880: The Adams Nervine Hospital is founded. The hospital is
funded by sugar merchant Seth Adams. It caters to
patients with nervous disorders and is located in
the J. Gardiner House.
- 1881: Charles Fletcher Dole becomes the pastor of the First Church.
His son James Drummond Dole (1877-1958), with less
than $2,000, makes $40,000,000 in the pineapple business
in Hawaii and the Sandwich Islands.
- 1882: Saint John's Episcopal Church is built on land given by
William H. Sumner using a design by Harris M. Stephenson
- 1890: The Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant (1833-1890) House is built
on Revere Street. Now a historic landmark, the house
is occupied by Sturtevant's son-in-law, Eugene Noble
Foss (1858-1939), Massachusetts Governor from 1911-1913.
- 1891: The first Blessed Sacrament Church is built at Centre and
- 1894: The first Parkman House is constructed for Francis Parkman
(1823-1893), a historian, Harvard horticulture professor,
and creator of the hybrid red speckled lily. The house
is rebuilt in 1906. The Francis Parkman School in
Forest Hills is named after him in 1899.
- 1903: The construction of the Elevated Line (Orange Line) above
Washington Street causes controversy in town.
- 1913: The first Children's Museum in the area is located in the
old Perkins family estate called Pinebank. It is later
moved in 1936 to Burroughs Street and finally to Boston
- 1915: Architect Joseph McGinnis designs colorful politician James
Michael Curley's House on 350 Jamaicaway. The Boston
landmark is recognizable by the shamrocks cut into
- 1918: Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish is founded on 40 Walk Hill
- 1924: Dance instructor Marguerite Souther puts up $16,000 of
her own money to help the Tuesday Club buy the Loring-Greenough
House for preservation and to prevent it from being
torn down to make room for stores. The Tuesday Club
(1897) is a women's literary society that used the
mansion as a clubhouse as well as a place for Red
Cross activities, classes, and teas.
- 1931: Edward Graham designs Our Lady of Lourdes on Montebello
- 1933: The second Agassiz School (the first is built 1849) is
built at Burroughs and Brewer Streets and named after
Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) whose wife
Ida Higginson Agassiz founded Radcliffe College.
- 1935: Central Congregational Church built at 85 Seaverns Avenue.
A second Congregational church, the Covenant Congregational
Church, is built at 455 Morton Street the same year.
- 1958: The Saint Andrew Ukranian Orthodox Church is built on Orchard
Hill Road in Forest Hills.
- 1968: Neighborhood resistance blocks highway I-95 from running
through Jamaica Plain.
- Jamaica Plain. The Boston 200 Neighborhood History Series. Boston:
Boston 200 Corporation, 1976.
- Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Jamaica Plain. Images of America.
Dover, NH: Arcadia, 1997.
Hoffman, Alexander. Local Attachments: The Making
of an American Urban Neighborhood, 1850-1920.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
- Whitcomb, Harriet Manning. Annals and Reminiscences of Jamaica Plain.
Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press, 1897.