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Home > Boston's Neighborhoods > Roslindale

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.


  • 1620s: Prior to the first English settlements, the Dedham Post Road is an important Native American highway. Notable historical figures such as Narragansett Chief Miantonime, King John of the Nipmucks, and Chief Matoomis travel the road. Later, the Minutemen race along the Dedham road to take part in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Today, the road is called Centre Street.
  • 1662: South Street is laid out.
  • 1683: The Westerly Burial Ground on Centre Street is constructed.
  • 1711: Roslindale residents build a meetinghouse on Walter Street (today the site of this defunct house is located in the Arnold Arboretum) to avoid having to travel to the meetinghouse in John Eliot Square, Roxbury. There, they also establish the Walter Street Burial Ground.
  • 1712: The congregation is recognized by the Massachusetts Bay government as the Second Church of Roxbury on land given by Joseph Weld. The first pastor is Ebenezer Thayer.
  • 1725: The Chamberlain House on Poplar Street is constructed and today is the oldest house in town.
  • 1804: Washington Street is built.
  • 1806: Captain John Weld sells his farm to Benjamin Bussey who builds a mansion there in 1818. Later, the house is given to Harvard and today is part of the Arnold Arboretum.
  • 1825: Poplar Street is laid out.
  • 1834: The Boston and Providence Railroad comes through the neighborhood.
  • 1841: Unitarian minister George Ripley founds a Transcendentalist utopian community called the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education on Baker Street. Transcendentalism influenced local Boston writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In 1849, Brook Farm is purchased by the town and made into a poor house. Later, it becomes home to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Gethsemane Cemetery in 1873.
  • 1847: Brown Avenue is laid out.
  • 1848: The Boston and Providence Railroad creates a stop in West Roxbury that facilitates population growth.
  • 1851: West Roxbury is incorporated including Roslindale.
  • 1852: Mount Hope Cemetery is created and filled with beautiful gardens and fountains.
  • 1870: Roslindale is called "South Street District" and "South Street Crossing." The name is later changed to "Roslindale" . Roslindale is named after Roslyn, Scotland (the "dale" suffix refers to the fact that the neighborhood is surrounded by hills) as suggested by Roslindale resident and world traveler John Pierce.
  • 1872: The Arnold Arboretum is founded in Roslindale and Jamaica Plain. Designed by its first director, Charles Sprague Sargent with help from Frederick Law Olmsted, the 265-acre horticultural research and educational institution is named after its benefactor James Arnold. The Arboretum is part of Olmsted's sprawling Emerald Necklace. The grounds include a library, herbarium, and trees and plants from around the world.
  • 1873: West Roxbury and Roslindale become part of Boston.
  • 1874: The Bethany Methodist Church is built on Ashland Street (now Cummins Highway).
  • 1880s: The extension of horse drawn cars and then streetcars to Roslindale Square urbanizes this previously rural farming community.
  • 1885: The Church of Our Savior founded by Reverend Archibald Codman.
  • 1887: Nine cars with 300 passengers hurtles into a 74-foot chasm when the Bussey Bridge on South Street and Archdale Road collapses. An enormous amount of spectators come to town to see the wreck and find the town so beautiful that they decide to stay and settle here.
  • 1888: Ridge Street laid out.
  • 1889: The Roslindale Baptist Church built on Ashland Street.
  • 1892: The Roslindale Unitarian Church is built using a design by Edwin J. Lewis (1859-1937).
  • 1893: The Sacred Heart Church is the first Roman Catholic church built on Cummings Highway and Brown Avenue. The first pastor is Reverend John Cummins.
  • 1895: South Fairview Street laid out.
  • 1898: The Roslindale Branch of the Boston Public Library opens.
  • 1911: The Roslindale Woman's Club is founded.
  • 1918: Irving W. Adams (1893-1918), of South Street, is the first Massachusetts man killed in action during World War I in a battle at Rambucourt, France on February 9th.
  • 1920s: The American Legion Highway cuts through town.
  • 1941-1945: The citizens of Roslindale raise $250,000 to buy a B-25 bomber, Spirit of Roslindale, which they donate to the military for use in World War II.
  • 1970s: Roslindale becomes an area to which Christian Lebanese immigrants come to live during the Lebanese Civil War.
  • 1980: Roslindale High School is closed. Students are sent to a new West Roxbury High School. The old high school building is recycled for housing.
  • 1984-90: Then District City Councilor Thomas Menino helps Roslindale Square to become a model as part of national program call "Main Streets." The effort brings small businesses back to the Square after abandonment in the early 1980s. Menino is elected Boston Mayor in 1993 He expands the program to other neighborhoods using Roslindale Square as the model.


  • Roslindale Historical Society
    Cathy Slade, President
    131 Rowe Street
    Roslindale, MA 02131

Further Reading

  • Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Roslindale. Images of America Series. Dover, NH: Arcadia, 1997.
  • Roslindale. The Boston 200 Neighborhood History Series. Boston: Boston 200 Corporation, 1976.




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