A Guide to Jamaica Plain
Jamaica Plain, originally part of the Town of Roxbury, was first called “the Pond Plain” - referring both to Jamaica Pond and the type of land that surrounded it. As early as 1667 it was mentioned in the official record of the conveyance of the property of Hugh Thomas for the benefit of a school “to the people at the Jamaica end of the Town of Roxbury”. Legend suggests that the name derives from the fondness of the residents for Jamaica rum from that West Indian island and that they preferred it “plain”. The fact that the island of Jamaica had not long before been taken from the Spaniards by England’s Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, and that its rum, sugar, and other products had already found their way to the port of Boston, forms the background for the legend.
A tale told of an Indian woman and her children, who lived on the shore of the pond, probably comes nearer to the truth. The woman, named Jamaica, was much given to hospitality, and the section at that time was spoken of as “The Plain”. It was a favorite drive for people in Roxbury, and they visited Jamaica, their expression being “Let’s take a ride to the Plain and visit Jamaica.” Yet Jamaica seems to be a corruption of the Indian word kutchemakin (“big feather”), given to an Indian sachem who presided over his subjects in the area south of Boston at the present Dorchester Lower Hills in winter and the Pond in summer. Kutchemakin resisted John Eliot’s first attempt to convert Native Americans but swore allegiance to King James I. His name is preserved and joined to the geological configuration of the area to give it its name.
A General Sketch of the History
The Town of Roxbury originally extended to Dorchester on the east, Brookline to the west, Dedham on the south, and peninsular Boston on the north. It was the sixth town to be incorporated in Massachusetts (1630). Its board of selectmen, along with the clerk, treasurer, constable, and tithing man, transacted all the business. On March 12, 1846, Roxbury became a city, and nine citizens served as mayor until annexation to Boston on January 6, 1868.
As early as 1776 the residents of “the Plain” had sent a petition to the Massachusetts Legislature asking to be incorporated as a separate town under the name of Washington. But the inhabitants of “the lower end” of Roxbury objected so strongly that the petition was not granted. The effort was made again in 1811 without success. Finally in 1851 Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury were set off from Roxbury under the name of the Town of West Roxbury, centering around the present Monument. This was an occasion of great rejoicing with cannon firing, bell ringing, fireworks, and speeches. Yet the need for a common water supply, streets, and sewers eventually made it necessary to join Boston, to which it was so closely united commercially and geographically. Thus Jamaica Plain was formally separated from the Town of West Roxbury and annexed to the city of Boston in 1874.
The early inhabitants were well-to-do farmers supplying vegetables and fruits to Boston. It was also the site of elegant country-seats occupied by government officials, professional and literary men, and city merchants. For more than a century it was an attractive summer resort for Bostonians. For more than 150 years, Jamaica Plain’s Centre Street (note the antique spelling) formed a direct route (indeed the only land route) for travelers proceeding out of Boston to Dedham, and thence to Providence, by horseback, private carriage, or stagecoach.
In the Revolutionary War during the Battle of Dorchester Heights and the accompanying Siege of Boston, the Dedham Road was the lifeline of the army, connecting active forces with their arms and supplies stored in Dedham. Weld’s Hill (now Bussey Hill in the Arboretum) was selected by Washington as a rallying point for the patriots to fall back upon in case of disaster, since it protected the road to Dedham and the south. In the summer of 1775 Rhode Island troops under General Greene were stationed at “the Plain” and were quartered with the inhabitants. The mansion today known as the Loring-Greenough House was briefly the headquarters of General Greene and was also a hospital for the Roxbury Camp during the Siege of Boston.
During the 19th century the population increased rapidly. The fine estates, extensive gardens, and large farms were broken up to give way to more modest homes. The advent of trains and streetcars by mid-century allowed easier access to downtown Boston so many residents of the city could move out to the less crowded suburbs. Many of the newcomers who swelled the population were immigrants from Germany and Ireland. Today there are still a number of descendants of the original colonists who made fortunes in the early days. There are also many who have attained wealth and prominence in modern times. Civic leaders (governors and mayors) have long favored Jamaica Plain. Governors Foss and Curley, and Mayors Peters, Tobin, and Collins lived here.
Although this area of the city has been developed to the point where all available land is in use, it has escaped the fate of other sections that have deteriorated, causing more affluent residents to sell their property and move to more desirable places. This is undoubtedly due to the presence of Jamaica Pond, the world-famous Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park on the opposite side of the town. The Pond, sheltered by beautiful trees, enhances the district on all sides and provides a lovely recreation area. The Arboretum, containing 265 acres and thousands of specimen trees and shrubs, is a beautiful park that attracts visitors from all over the world. Franklin Park is a large, natural park that has served to protect and enhance adjoining properties. In addition to these natural beauties, which early got the area termed “the Eden of America” Jamaica Plain is the home of several outstanding institutions. These unique organizations, described in later pages, impart a distinct flavor and have enriched the cultural life of the community for many generations.
Without doubt Jamaica Pond has always been a great attraction to the area. The Pond is the only sizeable body of water within the confines of the City of Boston. Size and depth prevented its being filled in, the fate of so many other surface water areas seen on old maps. Public access to the Pond had always existed via the Boathouse, but it was a natural for the parks movement in the late 19th century. It now forms the centerpiece of the public park planned by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1890’s as part of the Emerald Necklace.
This beautiful sheet of water covers some 70 acres, is 1.3 miles in circumference, and has a depth at some points of 70 feet. Like its smaller companion Ward’s Pond across Perkins Street, it was created by glacial action. The island on its northern side was created by the City of Boston early in the 20th century by building up a bar that appeared at periods of low water. At the same time, the city filled in a cove in the northeast corner, variously known as Swans’ Cove or Perkin’s Cove. It took its name from the Perkins family, who owned the house called Pinebank above the Cove.
Until the introduction of Cochituate water into Boston in 1848, the spring-fed Pond supplied water to parts of Boston and Roxbury by means of an underground aqueduct with its excellent water. In addition, the Jamaica Plain Ice Company profited in winter with its icehouses along Prince and Pond Streets. The Jamaica Plain Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1795 and laid about 45 miles of pipes, made of logs that still turn up in chance excavations. The trenches were only 3 to 3 ½ feet in depth, which did not always prevent freezing in severe weather. According to annual quality tests, the Pond’s water continues to retain its excellence and purity.
The Chief Streets
First laid out in 1623 before the Town of Roxbury was incorporated, its antiquity is attested to by the English variant spelling. It was first called “the Dedham Road” and was part of the overland route out of Boston. It begins at Roxbury Common (now known as Eliot Square, because John Eliot was first minister of the church that now encloses the Common) and was the chief road to the southwest, running through West Roxbury to points south. Not surprisingly it became a natural route for progressive stages of public transportation -stagecoach, horsecars, and streetcars. In 1720 Judge Paul Dudley of Roxbury set out his famed engraved stones for miles along it in one of the milestone chains that he constructed from Boston’s Townhouse (now called the Old State House). A splendid surviving example of one such stone may be seen near the base of the monument at Centre and South Streets.
In the Jackson Square area, Centre Street crosses the railroad tracks that cover the now-culverted Stony Brook. The long-gone bridge over the brook, which was notorious for its floods into the mid-19th century, derives its name from the following incident. Col. Joseph Williams, an early settler, had a daughter Patty of great physical strength. One day when young Patty was about to cross the bridge, she found it blocked by a herd of pigs. After her request to the man in charge of the pigs to make a way for her she received an insulting reply. She seized one of the hogs and threw it into Stony Brook and then threw the man in after it. She then proceeded quietly on her way.
The triangle formed by Centre, Day, and Perkins Streets is named for the Boston merchant, Leonard Hyde, who owned land in the Perkins-Day block in the early 19th century, which later housed a home for the Perkins Institute of the Blind and the House of the Guardian Angel, and now the Animal Hospital. The once-larger island in the square had benches and the Old Pump, a landmark where wearied, dusty travelers and stagecoach horses stopped, rested, and partook of the refreshing cool water. The pump was removed about the time of the Boston Tercentenary in 1930.
Washington St. is he longest street in the Commonwealth, extending from downtown Boston 38 miles south through cities, towns, and suburbs to the Rhode Island border at Pawtucket. Laid out as the great road south of Boston in 1662, it was first called the Dedham Turnpike in our area. It is often termed the spine of downtown Boston and was the sole mainland route out of the peninsular city over Boston Neck (at East Berkeley Street). Part of its downtown section had several names in colonial times. It began at the Old State House. William Dawes rode over it as far as Dudley Square on the night of April 18, 1775, along with Roxbury’s Paul Revere and Ebenezer Dorr, who continued down the turnpike to Dedham. George Washington (for whom it was named after the Revolution) proceeded along it in his trips to Boston during his presidency. The long-familiar elevated train structure ran above it from 1909, when the Boston Elevated Railway Company built it, until the late 1980’s, when the rail route was finally moved next to the railroad tracks. The street also acts as Jamaica Plain’s spine, since the current eastern border is generally considered to be at Franklin Park just east of Washington Street. Franklin Park was originally called West Roxbury Park, and was part of the former town of West Roxbury.
Other Historic Streets
In the great laying-out of streets in Roxbury in 1662, this street was run west off Hyde Square to Brookline (a separate town since 1705) as Connecticut Lane along the northern side of the Pond. In 1825 it was renamed after the primary Boston China trade merchant James Perkins, who had built his country estate of Pinebank on the Pond’s northern shore in 1809. The third Pinebank survived the taking of land for the Park in the 1890’s, though the Perkins heirs moved out, and its shell yet remains in deplorable condition. Some accounts credit the name to an earlier settler, who was one of Roxbury’s first settlers.
Pond Street was constructed in 1825 and led from Centre Street to the Boathouse at Jamaica Pond and then acted as the perimeter road up to the base of the Pond’s hilly western shore, where it swung over Moss Hill to the Brookline border and points west. With its most appropriate name, the Jamaicaway now interrupts Pond Street from the boathouse to Eliot Street. It starts up again by the stone wall between Eliot and Orchard Streets, and is again interrupted by the Jamaicaway as it widens into the Arborway at Kelley Circle. Pond Street resumes its identity at the base of Moss Hill and happily exits to Brookline.
Jamaicaway & Arborway
These are our area’s superhighways, constructed during Olmsted’s Park Project in the 1890’s. The former forms part of a fast road system leading southwest out of the Fenway area of Boston, while the latter serves after Murray Circle as a gateway southeast out of the city.
Another road laid out in 1662, South Street heads in the direction it is named after, to Forest Hills and Roslindale, as a connection between Centre Street and Washington Street.
The heart of Jamaica Plain has always been the area around Eliot Square at the Monument, as it is familiarly known. The triangle formed by Centre and South Streets was the center of the former Town of West Roxbury (1853-71), and this piece of ground can be considered the most historic in the area. It was the first donation of land for public purposes. In October 1676, the early settler John Ruggles, who also owned land in the area of Roxbury now named for him gave this triangle of land to the residents of Jamaica Plain for use as a school for their children. The Eliot School was built there but moved to its present location in 1831, and the Monument was built in the square in 1871.
At the northern end of the Monument’s triangle is a boulder of Roxbury puddingstone, with a plaque, erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1909 in memory of the men of Jamaica Plain who served in the Revolution. The Monument itself honors the 23 residents of the Town of West Roxbury who died in the service of the Union during the Civil War (1861-1865), in all the theatres of that war. It is built of Quincy granite in a Gothic style unique among such monuments in the Commonwealth, and is surmounted by the usual figure of a soldier at rest, seven feet high, sculpted by W. W. Lummus at a cost of $3,500. Dedicated on September 14, 1871, with great ceremony (programs of which survive), the Monument was erected at the total cost of $22,000. Before the monument was built, it was the site of our area’s first schoolhouse, endowed by the will of the Rev. John Eliot, Apostle to the Indians of Massachusetts.
The Eliot School
Just a stone’s throw down Eliot Street from the Monument is the Eliot School. John Ruggles made the first donation for the school on October 16, 1676. Rev. John Eliot gave another large gift on July 10, 1689: some 75 acres of land by the Pond. In 1831 the Eliot Trustees erected the present schoolhouse on Eliot Street, which served as a primary school for Jamaica Plain’s children into the late 19th century. After that it became an exemplary school with a crafts curriculum, and so it continues today.
On the opposite side of Eliot Street nearer the Monument is a large wooden building, still the home of the nation’s oldest amateur theatrical group, the Footlight Club, as noted on the Boston 2000 plaque attached to it. This historic building served as the first Town Hall for the Town of West Roxbury and as a parish building for the First Church of Jamaica Plain across the street.
The ancient Curtis family of Jamaica Plain, which settled here in the 1650’s, purchased land from the neighboring Greenough estate in 1868. They filled in a small pond on the site and built the structure as a Town Hall for the Town of West Roxbury in honor of Nelson Curtis, a prominent Boston businessman. After the Hall suffered a fire in 1908, the public library moved next door and the Hall was slightly altered, but it has always been a municipal building with gym and meeting facilities. It has often been rightly termed “a Little City Hall”.
The Post Office
The Jamaica Plain Post Office was first established in 1829. Mr. Joshua Seaver was appointed the first postmaster as he ran the famed general store in our area. In 1833 his son, Robert Seaver, who continued until 1849, succeeded him. President Andrew Jackson is said to have visited the store when he toured Boston in 1833. In 1870 the Jamaica Plain Post Office was changed from a Fourth Class to a Third Class facility with more services. Free delivery began in 1875. From Mr. Seaver’s Store at 741 Centre Street, the Post Office migrated to be nearer the growing railroad and commercial center at Woolsey Square by the Green Street Station, and was located at Alfred and Green Streets. Since then it has been in two successive buildings at Centre and Myrtle Streets.
Significant Surviving Residences
The Loring-Greenough House
Jamaica Plain’s only house museum, the Loring-Greenough House is the sole surviving colonial residence in original form. It belongs to the Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club, a women’s organization formed in 1868 for the improvement of female minds in the neighborhood, which bought the house from the Greenough family in 1924. This action forestalled any commercial development on the site or demolition of the house, a fate that had befallen all the other old homes along Centre Street in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when storefronts were built. The house has been preserved and furnished as a clubhouse.
In 1750 it was built by Joshua Loring, a retired commodore in the British Navy, on a tract that extended from South Street to the present railroad tracks. As the colonial political situation deteriorated, the Lorings abandoned the house and were back in England by 1774. General Nathaniel Greene of Rhode Island used it for his headquarters during the Siege of Boston (1775-1776), and during this time the house was also used as a hospital. Soldiers who died in the house were buried in a back lot along what is now Everett Street and in 1853 were removed to the Walter Street Burial Ground at the foot of Peter’s Hill in what is now the Arboretum. A boulder of Roxbury puddingstone there contains a plaque erected in 1903 by the Sons of the American Revolution in their honor.
Confiscated by the Commonwealth in 1779, the house was finally purchased by the Greenough family, who held it until 1924. One member of the family was the noted American sculptor, Horatio Greenough, known for his classic “nude” George Washington in the Smithsonian Institution. He later lived and worked further down Centre Street in his house called “Lakeville”, which has given its name to the street later laid out there.
Loring-era restorations have been made under expert guidance. The exterior of the Georgian home, practically unchanged, is notable for the massive chimney, captain’s walk, and a beautiful stairway of hand-carved mahogany. In the early days of restoration a cache of Commodore Loring’s rum was found and suitably enjoyed. Surrounded by fine trees, lawns, and gardens, this local gem of colonial architecture represents a fine link between Jamaica Plain’s past and present.
The May and Charles Curtis Farmstead
The May farmstead (originally built in 1732 between May Street and the Arborway) and the Charles Curtis farmstead (originally built in 1721 at 509 Centre Street by the Mary E. Curley School) were enclosed by later family members in grander homes. They can only be detected by interior inspection and are not available for public viewing. This method of home improvement was frequently applied in years past. Unfortunately traces of the older structures are often lost from public view, perceptible only to the eye of professionals working on these homes by chance. In the case of the May farmstead, the home of one of the commanders of three Roxbury militia units that marched to Arlington to fight against the British retreating from Concord in the afternoon of April 19, 1775, the house was redone with a massive stone outlay which renders it unmistakable as one drives out of the city on the Arborway. The Curtis House, one of several in the area of this ancient Jamaica Plain family, is hidden by the large mid-Victorian structure that Charles Curtis added at the front of the old farmstead in 1882.
The story of Linden Hall, Jamaica Plain’s most English-style estate follows a similar vein. Sitting back from the bow of Grosvenor Road and named after the magnificent trees that lined the walk to its entrance, one now sees merely the old barn, unaligned with Centre and Pond Streets. John Gould built the main house, formerly at 18 Pond Street, in 1755 for his son-in-law (the Rev. John Troutbeck, assistant rector of the first Anglican Church in Boston and owner of a distillery as well) on grounds that ended at the Pond. Avid Tories, the family left Boston with the British on March 17, 1776.
After confiscation it came into the possession of Charles W. Greene, descendant of General Greene, who had used the Loring-Greenough House for his Revolutionary headquarters. For some time Mr. Greene used the Hall for a prepatory boarding school for boys (the barn for the schoolhouse and the home for a dormitory). Among its graduates were John Lothrop Motley, Dorchester’s historian of the Dutch; George William Curtis of the ancient Jamaica Plain family, whose novel Trumps took its characters and scenes from our area; and the two brothers of Margaret Fuller, Forest Hills feminist. Today the exterior preserves little of its former dignity and beauty.
At the end of the extension of Moraine Street that ran from the Curley House across the Jamaicaway into the Park are the remains of the Ruskinian Gothic mansion of the Perkins family, early Boston merchant princes in the China trade. This is the only house left from the private residences that surrounded the Pond before it was taken over for a public park in the 1890’s.
The first Perkins house on the site was built in 1802 and was a Federal-style summer villa of wood. In 1848 it was replaced by a year-round mansard-style house, which burned in 1870. The present house was built on the same foundations in Gothic style with brick and terra cotta.
It became the property of the Park Department in 1892, when it was to be used as a refectory. At this time the City Architect added the wide terrace facing the Pond. After housing the ever-growing Children’s Museum from 1913 to 1936 the building became a white elephant and often suffered fires - the last one of which, in 1978, which left only some of the walls standing.
Leading down to the Pond’s shore are located, with suitable inscription, the original red sandstone steps which came from the mansion of John Hancock, first governor of the Commonwealth, which was torn down in 1864 to make way for a wing to the State House on Beacon Hill. They were bought in the auction and installed by the Perkins family. Hancock had oddly enough returned to Jamaica Plain, where he had a summerhouse on Centre Street above the Monument and to whose church he’d given a bell.
The Curley House
In 1915, Joseph P. McGinnis built the large Georgian revival house; perhaps the most famous 20th century home in Jamaica Plain, at 350 Jamaicaway. Its shamrock shutters proclaimed its owner to be of Irish descent. McGinnis built the house for the legendary and flamboyant James Michael Curley, who served for half a century in the rough-and-tumble of Boston politics as a U. S. Representative, City Councilman, Mayor on and off for four terms, and Governor. He even landed in jail for mail fraud until granted a pardon by President Truman.
Questions were always asked about how a young politician could build such a lavish 21-room house, but much of its fancy woodwork and notable staircase came from the home of an oil magnate in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, that was being demolished. The hall chandelier with the Hapsburg double eagles came from the auction of the Austro-Hungarian Embassy when it was confiscated during World War I. Financial problems caused Curley to sell the house in 1956 to the Oblate Fathers, while he and the second Mrs. Curley moved to Pond Circle, where he died in 1958. The Robin Hood mayor of Boston or the mayor of the poor, as he enjoyed being called, was no more, and gone from public view was the house that had seen so many renowned parties.
The Oblates did not change the house too much, and the huge Curley dining room furniture remained. The famous library, where His Honor had received so many rich and poor, held his books at the time when the House with the Shamrock Shutters went up for sale in 1988. Ultimately it was bought by the White Fund of the City of Boston and is currently being used for the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Corps.
Besides Curley, other mayors of Boston who lived in Jamaica Plain were Andrew Peters (1917-20) at Asticou and South Street, Malcolm Nichols (1926-9) at Hathaway and Centre Street above the Monument, and John Collins (1960-66) at the bend of Myrtle Street near the Post Office. Mayor and Governor Maurice Tobin (1937-46) lived at 30 Hopkins Road on Moss Hill. Governor Foss (1911-14) lived at 7 Revere Street on Sumner Hill.
Famous Sights That Have Vanished
The Curtis Homesteads
On June 22, 1632, William Curtis and his wife and children set sail on the ship, Lion with his sister Sarah, who had already become engaged to the Rev. John Eliot, also a passenger on the Lion. On September 6th these Nazing Pilgrims landed at Roxbury, and four weeks later the betrothed pair were married in the First Church, where Eliot would serve a long and distinguished pastorate. In 1633 William Curtis built his homestead by the distant westerly margin of Stony Brook. In 1878 it was still occupied by his lineal descendants, the widow and children of the fifth Isaac Curtis and seventh in descent from William.
The neighborhood was originally a forest abounding in wild animals, and a pair of antlers could always be seen in the old homestead. It was taken from a deer buck, shot from within the house, while it was drinking from the brook. In 1659 the Town of Roxbury paid 20 shillings to Philip Curtis for killing a wolf there. The house stood off Lamartine Street just east of what is now Stony Brook Station (near the site of the old Boylston Street Railroad Station). When the station was taken down in 1887, Paul Gore Street was laid out between the house and the huge elm tree, planted by William Curtis, which stood nearby.
Near the house, shaded by the old elm, was an additional spring that determined the location of the dwelling. Tradition has it that the elm was transplanted 200 years ago from a meadow in the Rocky Swamp, a tract lying between Washington Street and Forest Hills Station, which was then owned by the family. The timbers of the Curtis Homestead were unseasoned white oak, cut from their farmland. The nails were all hand-made. Originally the windows were diamond-shaped and set in leaden sashes. About 1690 these gave way to small panes of glass, and the lead was converted to spoons.
In 1712 Samuel Curtis bought of Joshua Bowen 20 acres bordering on Jamaica Pond and in 1722 built the house, in which his son and grandson lived and in which Miss Catherine P. Curtis, his granddaughter, resided in the 1920’s. During later renovations, cannonballs fired by the British during the Siege of Boston (1775-1776) were found. Samuel Curtis afterwards added the 14 acres of the Perkins Farm to the estate. The Connolly Branch of the Boston Public Library now occupies that site.
Joseph, son of Samuel Curtis, married Catherine Parker, who kept a shop of British goods in the house at 4 Boylston Street, in 1771. His son Joseph died in 1858 after a career of great public usefulness, having served the town long and faithfully as school committeeman, selectman, and representative. This descendent of William Curtis bought a horse and black slave and set up market gardening and was the first man to carry his vegetables into Boston in a cart instead of in panniers.
A stately brick mansion called Lakeville was erected in 1797, on grounds extending to the Pond, at the site of the current Beaufort Apartments on Centre Street between Lakeville and Beaufort Streets. The street that now pierces its former grounds commemorates its name. Later it was the home of the noted American sculptor, Horatio Greenough, who grew up in the house by the Monument, the ancestral home of the Greenoughs. Here it is said he carved his celebrated group The Chanting Cherubs.
The former summer home of the noted American historian of the French in America, Francis Parkman (1823-1893), the only Jamaica Plain resident as yet on an American postage stamp, was at the corner of Prince and Perkins Streets on the west side of the Pond. It faced the latter on the grounds of the former estate of James Chickering, who made his renowned pianos at the factory on Columbus Avenue (now a condominium). The fine granite exedra and shaft by D. C. French, erected by his friends in 1906, marks the site of the house, which was also the site of Parkman’s famous gardens, which he developed over the years as he fought conditions of health that brought him paralysis and blinding headaches. Here he developed his famous roses and lilies. The site was taken for parkland by his death and was completely regraded.
A Weld House
Of the many Weld residences in Jamaica Plain - that ancient family - here was the home of Stephen Minot Weld, who by 1827 established a boy’s boarding school near the corner of South and Centre Streets. Running for some 30 years, it prepared pupils from many states, Cuba and Mexico for Weld’s alma mater, Harvard College. His merchant prince brother, William F. Weld, gave Harvard Yard Weld Hall in memory of S.M. Weld.
A Colonial Governor’s Mansion
On the southeast side of Jamaica Pond, probably within the present Kelley Circle, was situated the mansion of Sir Francis Bernard, next-to-last royal governor of the colony of Massachusetts Bay (1760-69), in a period of surpassing historical interest. Seated in a tract of 60 acres, the mansion was fashioned from a 1688 farmhouse and had four rooms on each floor and boasted an elegant hall 24 by 50 feet. Outbuildings included a greenhouse with orange, lemon, fig, cork and cinnamon trees, stables, and a coach house. Gardens extended down to the shore of the Pond. Like the Loring-Greenough House, it served as a hospital during the Siege of Boston and soldiers who died there were buried out back. Later discovered when the place was farmed; those remains are now in the Walter Street Cemetery. The mansion was demolished in 1809.
The Bussey Mansion in the Arboretum
The estate at the bend of South Street just past the State Lab was bought from the Welds by silversmith Benjamin Bussey in 1806. In 1815 he erected a fine mansion, which he occupied until his death in 1843. It then became the residence of Thomas Motley, brother of the noted Dorchester historian of the Dutch, and was demolished in the 1940’s. Bussey bequeathed most of his valuable property, then containing some 300 acres, to Harvard College for the establishment of “a seminary for instruction in practical agriculture”. The Bussey Institute was duly built in 1871, where the State Lab now stands.
Even during Bussey’s lifetime the public enjoyed the freedom of his land. On the occasion of President Andrew Jackson’s visit to Boston in June 1833 accompanied by Vice President Van Buren, Mr. Bussey joined the grand procession in his yellow coach, drawn by six horses and richly attended by servants in livery. The mansion was at the foot of Weld (now called Bussey) Hill, selected by Washington as a rallying point for the American army in case of disaster during the Siege of Boston, as it protected the road to Dedham and the army depot there.
The Boylston/Hallowell House
Formerly at the corner of Boylston and Centre Streets was a house that proclaimed its age with a chimney painted 1738, when Captain Benjamin Hallowell of the British Army, who had married a Boylston, built it. An avid Tory, his views made him so obnoxious to the colonials that early in 1775 he found it wise to vacate the house hastily and seek refuge in British Boston. During the Siege of Boston it too was used as a hospital, and some of the soldiers who died there were buried in the lot behind the house. Upon Hallowell’s death in England his American wife claimed the estate. Her son, who came back to Jamaica Plain and spent the rest of his life here using his mother’s maiden name, pressed the claim; hence the name of the street as well.
A Forest Hills Home
Feminist Margaret Fuller and her sister, Mrs. Walter Channing, lived at 81 Morton Street in a mansion there. In this same house the American man of letters and Sage of Concord, Ralph Waldo Emerson, boarded for a time when he taught school on Schoolmaster’s Hill in what is now Franklin Park. He boarded with Mrs. Tilden, who later maintained a girls’ boarding school at the Cold Spring House at Washington and Green Streets.
John Hancock’s country-seat
Between Orchard Street and Dunster Road above the Monument off Centre Street was the country-seat of John Hancock, perhaps the wealthiest man in Boston as the Revolution approached. He fortunately became attached to the American side and went on to become the President of the Second Continental Congress (hence his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence) and the first governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Yet he was vain and touchy and, though he had been generous to the Church at the Monument, he left Jamaica Plain after its first minister, an outspoken Scot who came to America to share in the colonial cause for freedom, demanded information about certain things that Hancock had done with Harvard’s money while acting as its treasurer. Hancock’s nephew Thomas stayed in Jamaica Plain, demolished his uncle’s small house, and built another on the same site that remained into this century.
The May/Faneuil/Warren House
Eleazer originally owned the entire side of Centre Street opposite Pond Street from Spring Park to Green May. He sold the land in 1740 to Benjamin Faneuil, nephew of Peter Faneuil, the Boston merchant who gave the Town of Boston its first public market and meetinghouse, which still survive. In 1760 the area became the property of Faneuil’s brother-in-law, Benjamin Pemberton, who in 1802 sold it to Dr. John Warren, nephew of General Joseph Warren, hero of Bunker Hill, for a summer residence at 636 Centre Street. Dr. Warren beautified the grounds mightily with rare plants and shrubs imported from Europe and presided over many acres, which later divided into the Harris, Burrage, and Parley Vale estates.
In 1828, the beloved writer of 19th century children’s literature, Samuel G. Goodrich, who wrote under the name of Peter Parley, lived on the 45-acre Parley Vale estate. Goodrich built his own house far back on what is now Montebello Road. It no longer stands, but the entrance gate to his estate is still marked by the stone wall and pillars opposite Goodrich Road. It is told of Mr. Goodrich that at a July 4th celebration he gave a toast: “To the ladies of Jamaica Plain, not so very plain either!” He also built the quaint and unique house later owned by the Harris family on the corner of Parley Vale.
The Lowell Estate
At the beginning of the 19th century, Centre Street from Stony Brook (now the train tracks) to the site of the old Lowell School (razed in the 1950’s and made into a playground) at the corner of Mozart Street was the beautiful Lowell estate. The original home, erected in the latter half of the 18th century, was modeled after an old castle in Europe. It became the property of Judge John Lowell, one of the first Federal judges appointed by President George Washington, in 1785, and there he lived until his death in 1802. His son inherited the estate and founded the Lowell Institute for free lectures that are still given yearly at Harvard. He was the progenitor of the family that has given America a city in Massachusetts (set up as an ideal textile community), several poets, and a president of Harvard University.
Now marked only by a pair of stone pillars, the estate of Marguerite Souther (heiress to the fortune from the steam shovel that filled in the Back Bay, and the benefactor who ensured the rescue of the Loring-Greenough House), stood at 12 Allandale Street until the 1960’s, opposite the driveway to the Faulkner Hospital. Her fine house, hastily demolished when the hospital bought the land at Miss Souther’s death, was first built by Dr. Allan, who eventually gave this rural street its name from his estate, Allan’s Dale. Within its vales are several small bodies of water. One of these was soon tapped and a springhouse built over it. During the last century it was bottled and sold. Plans are for this land to be developed by the Mt. Pleasant Home as a retirement community, and the now-rundown springhouse will be restored as its centerpiece.
Two Commercial Establishments
Peacock Tavern at 1155 Centre Street at the corner of Allandale Street, now on the grounds of the Faulkner Hospital, was a tavern of the Revolutionary era like the Orange Tree in Brookline Village (also gone) or Buckman’s Tavern (still proudly standing by Lexington Green). Capt. Lemuel Child, who led one of the three Roxbury militia units to Arlington to fight the retreating British on the first Patriot’s Day, kept it. Before the Revolution, British soldiers frequented it after their skating parties on Jamaica Pond. American father of the Revolution and second governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Samuel Adams, also known for his share in a Boston brewery bequeathed to him, owned the property after the Revolution and used it as a summer place. The date of the demise of the actual tavern is unknown, but the Wallis family, who erected a fine Greek revival style home on the site, later owned the property. It was demolished in the mid-20th century, when the hospital bought the property to round off its holdings. Interestingly, the 6th Dudley Milestone is set in the Arboretum’s wall across the street directly facing Allandale Street.
The store at 741 Centre Street, the oldest in Boston and probably in the Commonwealth, was founded in 1796 by Joshua or Ebenezer Seaver and was for many years the only general store between Boston and Providence. After retiring from teaching the first Seaver bought a store that colonial troops had patronized and built the building at 741 Centre. It became the area’s first post office, police headquarters, and fire station, besides being the stopping place for stagecoaches between Boston and Providence.
For three generations the store was owned and managed by a Seaver. After the first Seaver’s death Robert Seaver ran it from 1833 to 1885, and he also dabbled in local politics. The store then passed into the hands of his sons, Robert and Fred, who carried on the business for over half a century until 1931. The bins and drawers were not changed in 136 years, and the store was replete with historic antiques.
It was last owned and managed by Joseph Daly, who worked under Fred Seaver for 30 years, and was finally demolished in the 1950’s in progress’ name. In the basement of the still extant building next door (Fowler’s Real Estate) are cells where prisoners were locked up while the store served as the area’s police station. Famous Jamaica Plain names were on their books: Peters, Parkman, Greene, and Curtis.
Churches of the Area
Jamaica Plain’s oldest church at the Monument was, like all the earliest churches in Boston and New England, of the Congregationalist faith of the Puritans. In the split in that denomination in the early 19th century First Church became Unitarian. Jamaica Plain remained part of the Parish of Roxbury (founded in 1632) until it finally split off as the Third Parish in 1770. More distant West Roxbury had split off as the Second Parish in 1712, building a church at Bussey and Walter Streets (hence the ancient burial ground there) and now residing at the Theodore Parker Church on Centre Street in West Roxbury.
The present granite English-Gothic building of the First Church is the second building on the site, erected in 1853 to replace the more usual New England style meetinghouse. First Church has had a distinguished succession of ministers, among them William Gordon and, at the turn of this century, Charles Dole. William Gordon was the first minister, a Scot who came to America with strong pro-colonial views and later wrote one of the earliest histories of the American Revolution. The Rev. Charles Dole was a noted pacifist and the father of a lad who went to Hawaii and became “the pineapple king” in the business world.
First Church Burial Ground
Behind the 1895 parish hall addition in granite to the 1853 church building is First Church’s small burial ground, Jamaica Plain’s only ancient burial spot. This is not too surprising because in farming communities, families often created their own burial grounds, and in the 18th century Jamaica Plain was pretty much a farming community. The First Church Burial Ground was established in 1785 despite Rev. Gordon’s objections. It contains 24 tombs in mounds created on two of its edges and in the central portion, and tombstones in fine condition. Three of the local men who marched against the retreating British on April 19, 1775 are buried here, their tombs marked with flags every Memorial Day in ceremonies by the Jamaica Plain Historical Society. The burial ground was never filled up because it was established relatively late, and the Forest Hills Cemetery was established by 1850.
St. John’s Episcopal Church
The founding of St. John’s Episcopal Church was largely due to Charles Belmont, father of Frank Belmont, who once lived in the house called “Lakeville” in the 1830’s. In 1840 a lot was purchased of Mr. Charles Bennett at the end of a lane that took its name from the church off Centre Street, and a wooden chapel was built and consecrated the next year by Bishop Griswold. The rectory was completed in 1849. The congregation flourished and outgrew its Victorian Gothic gingerbread chapel. In 1882 Gen. W. H. Sumner, son of Governor Increase Sumner for whom the Sumner Tunnel is named because of his business dealings in East Boston, who had extensive land holdings on the hill area east of Centre Street, bequeathed the church its present location. The present church was built there in English style of Roxbury puddingstone. Jamaica Plain formerly also had the mission congregation of St. Peter’s on Paul Gore Street, a wooden structure that burned. It has since become a neighborhood garden site.
The Baptist Church
The imposing stucco Baptist Church with its notably lofty steeple on the corner of Centre and Myrtle Streets was dedicated in 1859. A decade ago it suffered a tragic fire but has been restored to its grandeur.
The unique 19th century two-story wooden hall near the corner of Boylston and Danforth Streets was first used as a primary school. After the Town of West Roxbury built a larger Chestnut Street School in 1870, the Boylston Congregational Church formed and worshipped in the hall until it built its current big wooden church at the corner of Boylston and Amory Streets on the other side of the railroad tracks. Then the St. Peter’s Episcopal Mission formed and worshipped there until it built its own church on Paul Gore Street. Local Germans then bought the building to form yet another German club in Jamaica Plain, the Boylston Schulverein, which stayed on the site until it moved to Westwood in the 1960’s. The building continues to serve the area.
Dr. George Faulkner established the Central Congregational Church in May 1852 and others held its first services in the Village Hall on Thomas Street (later the G. A. R. Post but demolished in the 1960’s for a municipal parking lot). Their first house of worship was at the corner of Greenough and Centre Streets, where the Greenough apartment block now stands. Moving toward Jamaica Plain’s commercial center at Woolsey Square by the Green Street railroad station near the base of Sumner Hill, the congregation built a new house of worship at the triangular lot at the end of Roanoke and Seaverns Avenue. A fire in the 1930’s totally destroyed this grand structure, and the present red brick Georgian style building replaced it.
Catholic churches began in our area as German and Irish immigration to the United States increased during the 19th century, and are an excellent indication of the changing demographics and character of Jamaica Plain. Poor but eager, these people worked hard and long hours to make their world a better one than they as children had known, and with them they brought Mother Church.
Thus Blessed Sacrament Church and its school began as a mission from the Mission Church on Roxbury’s great cross street, Tremont. All early visions were crowned when the present Romanesque style building by Charles Greco was dedicated on June 10, 1917. Very much in the Italian style and particularly patterned after St. Paul’s-outside-the-walls in Rome, the Church of the Blessed Sacrament features red brick with limestone trimming in vast airy proportions. The church basically was to serve this side of Parker Hill and its adjacent valley.
Yet even during the days of the Town of West Roxbury, Archbishop Williams of Boston looked into the future and delineated St. Thomas Parish in 1865, under the Rev. Thomas Megennis, who had been ordained in Montreal. The church of St. Thomas Aquinas began at Curtis Hall in that year and soon moved down South Street to build its pleasant brick edifice (recently renovated) and school. Before the turn of the 20th century Our Lady of Lourdes had been established as a mission on Brookside Avenue to serve the Stony Brook Valley. The old church now serves as a vast parish hall to the newer brick edifice and school. As the 20th century progressed St. Thomas became the parent church for St. Andrew’s in Forest Hills, St. Theresa and Holy Name Churches in West Roxbury, and Sacred Heart in Roslindale.
St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 24 Orchard Hill Road, Forest Hills
Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon Church, 61 Rockwood St., Moss Hill
Rock Hill Alliance Church, Centre and Boylston Streets
Greater Faith Temple (COGIC), 66 Seaverns Avenue, Sumner Hill
Jamaica Plain Trinity Latvian Lutheran Church, 100 Rockview St.
Kingdom Hall, 236 Chestnut Ave. (English); 19 Kingsboro Park (Spanish)
Little Rock/Mother Storms AME Zion Church, 40 Elm St., Sumner Hill
The United Baptist Church of Jamaica Plain & Roxbury; Iglesia Bautista Hispania, 322 Centre St.
Iglesia Metodista Unida San Andres, Amory and Atherton Streets
Covenant Congregational Church, 455 Arborway
Schools are another excellent indicator of local population. Their number and names can tell much about a local community, especially at the present time when schools get to be named for someone attached to the community rather than being named after a remote U. S. President. Also in Jamaica Plain’s history, the number of Catholic parochial schools, which have played a great role in alternative education, must be taken into account.
The Eliot School was the school from the colonial period through the period of the Town of West Roxbury until after the annexation with the City of Boston (1873). Yet its administration under a private board of Trustees made for difficulties with public education offered by the City of Boston, and the systems parted ways with the Eliot School, which, under its Trustees, became a showpiece for crafts education. Later, it was re-adopted by the Boston Public Schools. Given this history, Jamaica Plain High School always claimed as its inception date that of the Eliot School (1689). Its independent existence began in the Village Hall in 1855. It moved to the fondly remembered site on Elm Avenue in 1868 under the proper name of West Roxbury High School, as a plaque on the building, now a condominium, proclaims. With the demise of the Town of West Roxbury it became Jamaica Plain High School and a new wing was added in 1901. The famed building on Elm Avenue was known for its agricultural department, just as all the high schools in the city were known for their individual specialties. West Roxbury High School came into being again recently when its modern building was constructed off the V. F. W. Parkway near the railroad’s Needham branch. A new Jamaica Plain High was built off Washington Street even more recently. This later building was amalgamated with English High School in a round of economic moves as school population dwindled in the city.
Most longtime Jamaica Plain residents recall the Agassiz School on Burroughs Street just past the corner of Centre. The old Agassiz School, dating from 1859, was a smaller brick building with large rectangular windows. It was the precursor to the New Agassiz School, a huge brick affair with a vast auditorium on the third floor that was the grammar or elementary school. The school was named for Louis Agassiz, a Swiss-born natural scientist (1807-73), who started Harvard’s Peabody Museum. His daughter Pauline married local Quincy Shaw and lived on the present Cabot Estate north of the Pond and did much to establish kindergartens in the United States. When these brick structures were razed in the 1960’s for a municipal parking lot, the Agassiz School was rebuilt in modern school architecture on Call Street off South Street.
Other feeder schools:
Joseph P. Manning (Moss Hill) - named after the Boston cigar manufacturer and philanthropist of 80 Pond Street (1867-1944).
Ellis Mendell School (Egleston Square) - named after a minister of the Boylston Congregational Church (1851-1903).
Margaret Fuller School (Glen Road) - named after the famed feminist of Forest Hills, who tragically died in a shipwreck as Countess Ossoli (1810-59).
Rafael Hernandez School (Egleston) - named after the prominent Puerto Rican song writer (1893-1965).
Junior high school (now termed middle school) was the rare art-deco-style Mary E. Curley School built in 1931, named for the gracious first wife of Mayor and Governor James Michael Curley, who died of cancer that same year. Its former primary division was transferred to the James Michael Curley School, built recently at the back of the school named for his wife on Pershing Road.
Former Jamaica Plain feeder schools:
Francis Parkman (Walk Hill Street) and Wyman (Wyman Street).
Forest Hills Cemetery
The Roxbury City Council on March 28, 1848, gave an order for the purchase of the farms of the old Seaverns family to establish a rural municipal park cemetery. In the same year another 14 ½ acres were purchased from John Parkinson. This made for a little more than 71 acres at the cost of $27,894. The acreage was later increased to 225 acres.
One of the most beautiful spots in Boston, along the lines of a European burial park, Forest Hills Cemetery boasts the artificial Lake Hibiscus and many imposing monuments of all eras by sculptors famous or not. Among these are Daniel Chester French’s Death Staying the Hand of the Sculptor at the entrance, a memorial to Boston sculptor Milmore. Milmore himself did the Civil War Monument for the City of Roxbury by the Walk Hill Street entrance. The names of Roxbury’s dead are inscribed on the surrounding granite balustrade.
The Cemetery Office by the Morton Street entrance furnishes a map for free that features the locations of the graves of some of the famous people buried in the cemetery, some local and others who happened to die in Boston after finding fame elsewhere. An outdoor copy is also posted just inside the main gate for weekend visitors. The cemetery is open to all during the hours of daylight for rambling along pavements and paths named for the flora of the world.
The Arnold Arboretum
The expanse of the Arnold Arboretum from the Arborway’s ridge across to Faulkner Hill and ending at South and Walter Streets is taken almost for granted as the natural place for a park. Yet the Arboretum began along South Street as it turns away from Forest Hills to snake toward Roslindale, where Benjamin Bussey in 1835 left land and money to Harvard College for a school of horticulture and agriculture. By 1871, a small portion of the eastern part of the estate had been built over with the Bussey Institution. It premiered agriculture at first and then applied biology. After being totally integrated into Harvard University, the old Victorian stone building was demolished after a ravenous fire, and the present State Lab for the Department of Public Health was built along with research space for Harvard.
By 1872 the remaining share of the estate (120) acres was being turned into what would become one of the largest (and youngest) botanical gardens in the world (now with some 7,000 species of trees, shrubs, and vines). This Arboretum was named after James Arnold of New Bedford, who had also left Harvard money for the study of agriculture and horticulture. Bussey’s initial gift and the lack of land near the Harvard campus in Cambridge made the university go to noncontiguous tracts (the first of many for colleges). A 1,000-year lease makes Harvard the caretaker of the plants, while the City of Boston owns, polices, and maintains the roads of this park for public and academic use. This is where Frederick Law Olmsted, the pioneer landscapist, began his park work in Boston in consultation with the Arboretum’s first Director, Charles S. Sargent, and together they achieved plantings in eternal harmony with the natural features.
Over the years 145 additional acres were acquired piecemeal. This allowed the Arboretum to spill over Bussey Street up Peter’s Hill - the highest of the Arboretum’s three drumlins at 237 ft., with a fine view - and across South Street to Stony Brook, which is now covered over by the railroad tracks. A fine library and bookstore are at the main entrance beyond Murray Circle on the Arborway. Lilac Sunday is a cherished annual event, and walking is easy as no cars are allowed. Jamaica Plain’s only visible surviving brook leisurely meanders its way west to east, and all plants are marked for the walker’s reference in this living museum of flora of the entire Northern Hemisphere.
The Jamaica Elm
One notable tree in Jamaica Plain did not stand in the Arboretum. This was the Jamaica Elm that stood into the 20th century at the corner of Green and Rockview Streets. It was the largest of its kind in the City of Boston and was featured among the 100-plus local post cards that were issued in the first half of this century. Like so many of its species it fell victim to Dutch elm disease and had to be removed.
The Jamaica Plain Branch Libraries
Jamaica Plain’s library service began on the first floor of Curtis Hall in June 1876 as a delivery section of the Roxbury Branch Library. A year later the Library became an independent branch on the first floor of Curtis Hall. After a fire there in 1908 the branch continued in rented quarters in Jackson Hall at Centre Street and Seaverns Avenue. The current building, on the Sedgwick Street side of Curtis Hall, was erected by the City of Boston in 1909-11 and was the first branch building built for library purposes.
Another branch was established for upper Jamaica Plain near Hyde Square when the Connolly branch was built in the more traditional branch architecture of that period. It was named for the beloved leader of the nearby Blessed Sacrament Church a quarter of a mile away.
The Faulkner Hospital
Our local hospital is named for its founder, Dr. George Faulkner, the legendary physician of the late 19th century. A graduate of Harvard, Dr. Faulkner determined to come back and serve the people with whom he had grown up. He practiced for 32 years, his carriage a familiar sight with his Scotch terriers and his invalid daughter Mary with him. Upon Mary’s death in 1896 the Faulkners set up a trust to build a local hospital. On its acreage fronting on the Arboretum for southern exposure the first Faulkner Hospital was more like a nursing home at the time of its opening in March 1903.
From its initial care for 30 patients in cozy rooms with fireplaces, even free to those who needed the care but who could not pay at the time, progress in medicine soon made it into a large teaching hospital with a famous Nursing School and all sorts of departments. Dr. Faulkner died in 1911, but his rich spirit has caused it to increase in size and specialties, notably the headache and breast centers of the present time. The Adams Nervine Asylum just up the road on Centre Street, dating from the 1880’s and pioneering in the treatment of mental disorders with drugs like Lithium, merged with the Faulkner later on. The current hospital building dates from 1967, and “Whose life is it anyhow?” was filmed there.
Composition of Community
The following statement, made by an anonymous Jamaica Plain Library chronicler in the 1930’s, reflects the Jamaica Plain community in which this editor grew up in the 1940’s:
The earliest settlers in Jamaica Plain were English Protestants. Their descendants dominated the community until the middle of the nineteenth century when immigrants from Germany and Ireland swelled the population. During this century many different nationalities have settled here: Italian, Greek, Latvian, and most recently Cuban. There is a sizable Jewish community now concentrated in the Moss Hill area. Quite a number of colored families now reside in the less attractive area in the vicinity of the railroad tracks. There are now very few descendants of the original settlers in Jamaica Plain. The more prolific Irish Catholic families have replaced them in numbers as well as influence. The present population of approximately 19,000 is predominantly Catholic of Irish descent
With the upheaval after World War II and the civil rights movements of the 1960s and the growth of Boston in general, Jamaica Plain demographics have changed yet again. Notable is the establishment of the largest Hispanic population here in all of the City of Boston, at 30% in 1990. As Boston’s colleges have expanded and more students live off campus, Jamaica Plain’s nearness to the city core has not escaped notice of students seeking housing.
A walk along Centre Street demonstrates a rich diversity of peoples of various backgrounds, cultures, and experiences making it somehow in contemporary America. At Christmas the streetlights are decorated with the national flags of people who, from these varied countries all over the world, come to live in Jamaica Plain. Many are the flags to be seen on both sides of Centre Street, from Green Street to the Monument. They symbolize the great future as well as the past of our fair area; probably still “an Eden of America” just as it was called when the first Europeans settled here. With ongoing community cooperation and sensitivity to issues the Eden can continue - no Utopia perhaps but a place where many peoples can come together and live in some comfort.
Appendix: Some Notable Persons of Jamaica Plain
Horatio Greenough (1805-1852)
Samuel Goodrich (Peter Parley 1793-1860)
Francis Parkman (1823-1893)
Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
Sir Francis Bernard (1712-1779)
James Michael Curley (1874-1958)
Gen. William Sumner
Maurice J. Tobin (1901-1953)
Michael Anagros (1837-1906)
Elizabeth Peabody Agassiz (1804-1894)
John Lowell (1743-1802)
Emily Balch (1867-1961)
Rev. James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888)
Rev. Charles Dole
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Molly Rogers (1882-1955)
Ellen Richards (1842-1911)
Charles Sprague Sargeant (1841-1927)
Dr. John Warren (1778-1856)
William Heath (1737-1814)
Among those who rest in the Forest Hills Cemetery
Milmore Memorial - sculpted by D. C. French
Mount Warren -Gen. Joseph Warren - American Revolution
Mount Dearborn - Gen. H.A.S. Dearborn - American Revolution
Gen. William Heath - American Revolution
E. E. Cummings - Poet
William Gaston - Governor of Massachusetts (1875-1876)
Eugene O’Neill - Playwright
Adelbert T. Alden - Statuette sculpted by D. C. French
James Freeman Clarke - Author
Edward Everett Hale - Author
William Lloyd Garrison - Abolitionist
John Reece Monument - Inventor of Buttonhole Machine
Fannie Davenport - Actress
James Bennett Forsyth - Founder of Forsyth Dental Clinic
Eugene N. Foss - Governor of Massachusetts (1911-1914)
Curtis Guild - of Massachusetts (1906-1909)
John Lufkin - Inventor of the shoe vamp machine
Channing H. Cox - of Massachusetts (1921-1924)
Andrew Carney - Founder - Carney Hospital
Rear Admiral John A. Winslow - Admiral of Civil War
Jacob Wirth - Restaurateur
Bishop Theofan S Noli - Premier of Albania
Compiled by Walter Marx. Production assistance by Frank Norton. Edited by Chris Globig, Charlie Rosenberg, and Jennifer Stewart.
Copyright 2003 © The Jamaica Plain Historical Society
I was glad to see a recap of some famous bodies in Forest Hills Cemetery. That is one of my parks and I find noteworthy graves not on your site or in the guidebook or map from time to time.
One note is that the Lufkin is Richard H., not John. His vamp folding machine was an important innovation in shoe making
Another inventor not usually listed is John T. Hancock. His Inspirator valve that predates Lufkin’s machine by half a century is still in use. Moreover, as Lufkin’s mausoleum, Hancock’s stone has a carved image of the invention.
Lufkin was born in Charlestown and Hancock in Boston. I found biographical data for the former at the BLP’s social-sciences area of the research library. Hancock’s valves are still used, but I can’t find him in biography sources.
I have a post at Harrumph! showing the tombs and listing the information I have about the inventors.