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Beacon Hill celebrates 'hidden' history of black residents

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  May 24, 2012 10:25 AM

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In 19th century Boston, the center of African American life and the city’s growing abolitionist movement was focused on the north slope of Beacon Hill.

The neighborhood was home to about 2,100 black citizens by the start of the Civil War, and those residents helped build and support Boston’s first integrated schools, underground railroad stations, and the oldest standing black church in America.

The neighborhood has taken great pride in this history. A Black Heritage Trail runs through the historic streets, offering visitors glimpses of pre-Civil War Boston. The Museum of African-American History on Joy Street also recently completed renovations on The African Meeting House, allowing the the church to stand as it appeared in 1855, at the height of the abolitionist era.

Now, the museum and the neighborhood are showcasing lesser known landmarks in Beacon Hill's history.

The museum, along with the Beacon Hill Scholars and Beacon Hill Civic Association, hosted a talk about the little-known historic places on the north slope that were home to active members in the black community.

The presentation, titled Hidden on Beacon Hill: Boston’s 19th Century Black History, took place on Wednesday at the museum's campus at 74 Joy St.

Hidden on the Hill featured presentations from L’Merchie Frazier, the museum’s education director, and Kathryn Grover, the author of Fugitive Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolitionism in New Bedford, Massachusetts and co-author of Historic Resource Study of the Boston African American Historic Site.

Current Beacon Hill residents, including Suzanne Besser, Mary and John Gier, Vincent Licenziato, Dana Smith, Michael Terranova, Bernadette Williams, and Victor Zabek.
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Twitter: @YourBeaconHill
E-mail: johanna.yourtown@gmail.com

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