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Area is inhabited by the Wampanoag Indian Tribe.
- 1630: 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 Rockberry.
It includes what is now West Roxbury as well as what
are now several other neighborhoods and towns. The
town is named after the unique rock outcroppings later
called Roxbury puddingstone. All the other Roxburys
in the United States from the town of Roxbury in New
Hampshire to Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills have their
origin in Roxbury, Massachusetts. What is now West
Roxbury is first called the Spring Street neighborhood
of the town of Roxbury.
The first meetinghouse and burial ground are constructed
in what is now the John Eliot Square (Roxbury Highlands)
section of the town. All parishioners travel to the
meetinghouse for church including those who live in
the West Roxbury section of the town. Reverend
John Eliot (1604-1691) is the minister. Eliot
is known as "The Apostle of the Indians" for his efforts
to christianize the Native American population.
Reverend Eliot founds the Roxbury Latin School. It
moves to West Roxbury in 1922.
- 1643: Joseph Weld, one of the first settlers of West Roxbury,
is granted a large tract of land by the Massachusetts
Bay Company stretching from Forest Hills to Brookline
as a reward for negotiating a treaty with the Pequot
- 1652: Approximately 120 houses are in town. Most dwellings are
in John Eliot Square, named after the preacher who
wrote the first bible in the Algonkian Language that
was instrumental in converting many Native Americans
- 1662: Centre Street is laid out as the main route between Boston
and Hartford, Connecticut.
- 1683: The Westerly Burial Ground is located on Centre Street,
in the area of the original Roxbury settlement.
- 1706: Approximately 45 families settled around Jamaica Pond form
the independent town of Jamaica Plain although they
don't receive official recognition from the colony.
- 1710: The area from Jamaica Plain to Dedham is known as Jamaica
End or Spring Street. The area from Roslindale (known
as South Street) out is known as West Roxbury Village.
- 1711: West Roxbury residents build The Second Church of Christ
on Walter Street to avoid having to travel to the
meetinghouse in John Eliot Square, Roxbury. They also
establish the Walter Street Burial Ground. Today the
site of this defunct house is located in the Arnold
- 1733: The congregation moves to a building on Centre Street.
Today it is the Theodore Parker Unitarian Church.
- 1767: Jeremiah Richards donates money to build the first school
- 1776: General George Washington (1732-1799) uses Weld Hill for
rallies. Residents attempt to establish themselves
as a separate town called "Washington" after
the General but their petition is denied by the colonial
- 1805: Washington Street is laid out. Originally called Dedham
Turnpike, it is later renamed for General George Washington
and is the main route connecting Dedham to Boston.
- 1835: The Old South Evangelical Church is built on Mount Vernon
and Centre Streets. Reverend Christopher Marsh is
the first pastor. The church is later replaced by
the West Roxbury Congregational Church (1891) and
now is a branch of the Boston Public Library.
- 1837-1846: Reverend Theodore Parker is minister of the Second
Church of Roxbury. He is a staunch abolitionist.
- 1841: The pastor of Purchase Street Unitarian Church, George
Ripley, comes to Roxbury with his wife Sophia. They
establish Brook Farm, a utopian community organized
under the tenets of Transcendentalism on the dairy
farm of Charles Ellis. Nathaniel Hawthorne is briefly
a member of the group that he writes about in The
Blithedale Romance. Other prominent visitors include:
Horace Greeley, A. Bronson Alcott, and Ralph Waldo
Emerson. Brook Farm is later auctioned off (1849)
and used as a Civil War camping ground for the 54th
Massachusetts Regiment, and the Martin Luther Home
German orphanage (1870). The farm also includes a
section of Roxbury Puddingstone (Drumlins or hills
created by retreating glaciers) called "Pulpit
Rock" where John Eliot preached to the Native
Americans in the seventeenth century.
- 1848: The Boston and Providence Railroad creates stops at Central
(Bellevue) Street, West Roxbury Village, and Spring
Street. Increased access to town causes the area's
population to expand and, in turn, urbanizes this
previously rural farming community. At this point
in time West Roxbury has three sections: West Roxbury
Village (Center Street), Mount Bellevue, and Germantown
(Washington and Grove Streets) where Germans from
East Dedham settle.
- 1849: Park Street and La Grange Streets are laid out.
- 1851: West Roxbury breaks away from Roxbury in an attempt to
remain rural. West Roxbury includes Roslindale and
- 1856: West Roxbury is connected to Roxbury by horse drawn streetcars.
- 1863: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw is killed along with 255 of his
troops after an attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina.
A West Roxbury native, Shaw is the leader of the 54th
Massachusetts Regiment, the first all black company
of soldiers in the Civil War.
- 1873: West Roxbury is annexed to Boston.
- 1890: The Wesley Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church is built
on Park Street. Designed by Oscar Thayer, it is now
Saint Matthew's Syrian Orthodox Church.
- 1893: The Emmanuel Church is built on Stratford Street and Clement
- 1899: The Theodore Parker Church is completed on Centre and Corey
Streets. It is now a historical landmark.
- 1902: A group of Jewish families establish a farm co-operative
modeled after Brook Farm. They raise cattle and horses
on Washington Street but soon have to close down for
- 1909: The Elevated Railway runs to Jamaica Plain with streetcar
lines into West Roxbury.
- 1911: The West Roxbury Woman's Club forms to educate and unite
- 1920: Three quarters of the current buildings in West Roxbury
are built after this date.
- 1922: The Roxbury Latin School (founded by Reverend John Eliot
in 1635) moves into the Codman Estate on Centre Street
- 1927: The Holy Name Church is established on Centre Street.
Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. West Roxbury. Images of America Series.
Dover, NH: Arcadia, 1997.
Roxbury. The Boston 200 Neighborhood History Series.
Boston: Boston 200 Corporation, 1976.