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Roxbury Historical Society sees rebirth

Posted by Patrick Rosso  February 21, 2013 10:43 AM

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The Roxbury Historical Society, which has been dormant for the past couple of years, has seen a rebirth in the last month.

“People wanted to have a society dedicated to the history of Roxbury,” said Byron Rushing, a state representative from the South End and the new president of the society. “The organization never went out of business, it just slowed down.”

An institution in the neighborhood for close to 100 years, the society recently started reorganizing monthly meetings and members.

Rushing said that many members of the organization, which is thought to have formed sometime around 1908, left when work at the historic Dillaway-Thomas House slowed down.

But now organizers are bringing in new members, sponsoring events, and digging up the history of Roxbury.

“We want to become the source of information about the whole history of Roxbury and go back as far as we can,” said Rushing. “We have new blood and we’re going to see what we can do.”

Although the neighborhood is known for its rich African-American history, Rushing said the society will look at every facet of the community’s history from the time when Native Americans made tools on the land to when the neighborhood was annexed to Boston.

“There’s a lot of history in Roxbury that people don’t know about,” Rushing said. “Roxbury represents a community started at the same time Boston was. When you tell the story of Roxbury, you tell the history of a colonial European settlement that became more diverse.”

Originally founded as the Roxbury Military Historical Society in the early 1900s, Rushing said, the group will look to investigate the history residents want to know about, from the apple orchards that once covered the neighborhood to history behind its name.

The group holds monthly meetings at the Dillaway-Thomas House in John Eliot Square on the first Thursday of the month at 5:45 p.m.

Membership is $10.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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