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- 1630: September 28, The first Puritan settlers arrive in Roxbury,
led by William Pynchon (1589-1661), three weeks after
the founding of Boston. The town is originally called
"Rocksberry." The town is named after the
unique rock outcroppings later called Roxbury puddinstone.
All the other Roxburys in the United States have their
origin in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
- 1632: The first meetinghouse and burial ground are constructed
in John Eliot Square. At this time, Washington, Roxbury,
and Warren Streets and Dudley Square are laid out.
- 1635: Reverend John Eliot (1604-1691) founds the Roxbury Latin
School that later moves to West Roxbury in 1922. The
school is the first preparatory school in the United
States. Eliot is known as 'The Apostle of the Indians'
for his efforts to christianize the Native Americans.
- 1639: Roxbury is founded. It is connected to Boston by a thin
strip of land along Washington Street. Originally,
the town includes West Roxbury, Roslindale, Mission
Hill, and Jamaica Plain. The town is a farming and
stone mining community in a strategic military position
since it guards the only route into Boston.
- 1720: The Warren House, childhood home to Dr. John Warren (1753-1815),
Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at Harvard, and his
brother General Joseph Warren (1741-1775), of the
Battle of Bunker Hill, is built.
- 1746: The Roxbury Meetinghouse is constructed on Meeting House
or Tory Hill. This hill is later used by General George
Washington to drill troops during the Revolution.
- 1747: The Shirley-Eustis
House is built at 31 Shirley Street for William
Shirley (1693-1771), the English Royal Governor of
Massachusetts and commander of British forces in America.
Later, Dr. William Eustis (1753-1825), a former student
of Dr. Joseph Warren, buys the house and lives there
while he is Governor of Massachusetts from 1823 to
1825. The house is designed by Peter Harrison who
also designs King's Chapel, Boston.
- 1750: The Dillaway-Thomas House is built at 183 Roxbury Street
as a parsonage for the First Church of John Eliot
Square. Charles Knapp Dillaway is the headmaster at
the Roxbury Latin School when the first Japanese students
come to America.
- 1775: A fort is constructed on Roxbury Highlands during the
- 1800-1850: 1821: The Roxbury Universalist Church is founded
on Guild Row.
- 1828: Nahum Ward founds a candle making plant using horse tallow.
In 1857, his son Francis Jackson Ward (1830-1912),
moves the plant and horse graveyard to his family's
land on Spectacle Island.
- 1832: Joseph Sampson Waterman founds what today is the oldest
funeral service business in Boston: J.S. Waterman
- 1836: A Greek Revival mansion is built for First Parish Church
deacon Alvah Kittredge Later, it is home to Nathaniel
J. Bradlee and today is the site of the Roxbury Action
- 1839: Horse drawn streetcars provide service to Roxbury.
The section of Roxbury along the Tidal Flats near
the Shirley-Eustis House becomes a center for poor
Irish Immigrants living in shanties along the flats.
An anti-Irish Catholic riot leads to a the killing
of an Irish immigrant on Dudley Street. St. Patrick's
Parish Church is founded on the corner of Hampden
and Dudley streets.
- 1848: Simon Willard (1753-1848), considered by some to be the
greatest clock maker in the United States dies. He
is famous for tall encased clocks called Roxbury cases.
Also, Mayor Dearborn dedicates Forest Hills Cemetery
in the section of Roxbury by the same name. The Cemetery
is the second is the United States laid out to be
a place to walk and to contemplate nature. Over 150
years, it has become the final resting place for a
number of notable Americans including e.e. cummings,
Eugene O'Neil and Ruby Foo. The Cemetery has notable
sculpture from the late 19th century by William Chester
Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury form their own town,
withdrawing from the city of Roxbury.
- 1856: Louis Prang
(1824-1909), after fleeing Germany during the failed
uprising of 1848, introduces chromolithography which
allows oil paintings to be reproduced. In 1875, Prang
prints the first Christmas card in the United States.
- 1857: Henry and Jacob Pfaff found the H & J Pfaff Brewing Company
on Pynchon Street (now Columbus Avenue). There, many
German and later Irish workers brew lager beer.
- 1867: Roxbury is annexed to Boston.
- 1869: Cochituate Stand Pipe is constructed on Fort Hill for
water storage. Fort Hill is the site of an impressive
defensive fort during the Siege of Boston in 1776.
In 1895, Frederick Law Olmsted designs a park around
the structure which becomes an observation tower in
- 1871: The Hotel Dartmouth is built on Washington and Dudley
and today is a historic landmark.
- 1872: Aaron Davis William's house is built at 300 Walnut Avenue.
Today, it is the Museum of the National Center of
- 1873: The Fellows Athenaeum is built on Millmont and Lambert
Streets. Captain Caleb Fellows (1771-1852) funds the
5,700 book library in his will. Today, the library
is part of the Dudley Street Branch
Library of the Boston Public Library.
- 1876: Andrew Jackson Houghton (1827-1901) founds the A.J. Houghton
Company which brews Vienna and Pavonia style beer
on Station Street.
- 1877: Charles Follen Adams (1842-1918) publishes Leedle
Yawcob Strauss, a book of popular German stories
written from his home on Waverley Street.
- 1885: The city's largest park, Franklin Park (527 acres), is
built. It is designed by Frederick
Law Olmsted as the final link in his 2,000 acre
Emerald Necklace. The Franklin Park Zoo is a major
component of the park.
- 1886: A flood swamps the town in three feet of water.
- 1888: All Souls' Unitarian Church is built on Warren and Elm
Hill Avenue. Today, it is home of the Charles Street
African Methodist Church (originally formed on Beacon
Hill in 1833).
- 1891: The Roxbury Presbyterian Church is built on Warren and Waverley.
- 1894: The first Jewish temple in Roxbury, Agudas Achem (Intervale
Street Synagogue), is built.
- 1898: The Mishkan Tefila Temple is built.
- 1900: Saint Monica's, a house for elderly African-Americans,
moves into Rockledge, a building on Highland Street
that once belonged to abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison
- 1901: Saint Hugh's Church is built on Blue Hill Avenue.
Booker T. Washington comes to the Columbus Avenue
African Methodist Episcopal Zion church to address
the Boston chapter of the National Negro Business
League. William Monroe Trotter disrupts the meeting
seeing Washington's strategy as too passive in the
face attacks on African-Americans in the South. It
is a formative event in the development of the NAACP.
- 1906: The Adath Jeshuran Jewish temple is built on Blue Hill
- 1908: The Shaare Tefilo (Otisfield Street Synagogue) is constructed.
- 1909: Edward Everett
Hale (1822-1909), pastor of the South Congregational
Church in Boston, dies. The respected author and philanthropist
lived at 39 Highland Street in a Greek Revival mansion
during his lifetime.
- 1913: The Beth Hamidrash Hagadol (Crawford Street Synagogue)
- 1915: Nusach Sfard (Lawrence Avenue Synagogue) is built.
- 1918: Louis Epstein is elected as the Rabbi of Beth Hamidrash
Hagadol, three years after the congregation forms
the Crawford Street Synagogue in Roxbury.
- 1920: Hebrew College is founded on 14 Crawford Street in Roxbury
by the Bureau of Jewish Education in Boston.
- 1923: The Swedish Lutheran Emmanuel (now Resurrection Lutheran)
Church is built on Warren Street.
Malcolm Little, later Malcolm X, lives in his sister's
house while a teenager on Dale St.
- 1932: The Horace Mann School for the Deaf is built on Kearsage
Avenue and named for the man who brought the need
for schools for the deaf to the attention of the public.
Today the building is home to the Phillis Wheatley
Middle School, named after the African-American slave
of John Wheatley. Phillis
Wheatley (c1753-1784) published a book of poems
called Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and
Moral in 1773.
- 1940-1950s: African-Americans who live in "Lower Roxbury,"
a part of the South End, begin to move to Elm Hill
"Sugar Hill" replacing the Jewish community. Roxbury
receives an influx of Southern African-Americans during
and after World War II who work in the new defense
plants like Raytheon in Newton.
Martin Luther King, Jr, while a theological student
at Boston University preaches at the 12th Baptist
Church on Warren St.
Roxbury is one of the neighborhoods targeted by the
Boston Redevelopment Authority for urban renewal.
A number of new streets are built, including Martin
Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
After welfare protesters are removed by Police from
the Grove Hall welfare office, a riot begins and some
of the stores in Grove Hall are burned. Two nights
of riots lead to a heavy police presence.
- 1969: The Trotter School on Humboldt Avenue is named after
William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934),
the first African-American Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard
graduate, founder of the Niagra Movement for African-American
rights, and editor of African-American newspaper The
Roxbury Community College opens in the old Chevy Dealership
in Grove Hall. Later it moves to 424 Dudley Street
and in 1988 moves into its permanent home on Columbus
Black Bostonians vote on a referendum to secede from
Boston and to form their own city, with Roxbury as
a principal part of the new city. The city would be
called Mandela. It is voted down.
- Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Roxbury. Images of America Series.
Dover, NH: Arcadia, 1997.
- Roxbury. The Boston 200 Neighborhood History Series. Boston:
Boston 200 Corporation, 1976.