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Jamaica Plain

Home > Boston's Neighborhoods > Jamaica Plain

Learn 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 community today.


  • Pre-1630: 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 estate.
  • 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 new settlers.
  • 1840s: 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.
  • 1850s 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 Square.
  • 1851: West Roxbury, including Roslindale and Jamaica Plain, secedes from Roxbury.
  • 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.
  • 1868: 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 (1845-1909).
  • 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 Creighton.
  • 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 in 1979.
  • 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 its shutters.
  • 1918: Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish is founded on 40 Walk Hill Street.
  • 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 Road.
  • 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.

Further Reading

  • 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.
  • Von 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.




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