West Roxbury, Massachusetts

West Roxbury, Massachusetts

Founded in 1630 (contemporaneously with Boston), West Roxbury, Massachusetts was originally part of the town of Roxbury and was mainly used as farmland. West Roxbury seceded from Roxbury in 1851, and was annexed [On October 7, 1873, a vote was held to determine whether West Roxbury should join Boston; Boston residents approved the question, 6110-1648, and West Roxbury residents also approved, 720-613. "The Result in Figures", "The Boston Globe", p. 5, October 8, 1873.] by Boston in 1874. The town included the neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and Roslindale. [ [http://ksgaccman.harvard.edu/hotc/DisplayIssue.asp?id=93 Database of the Greenspaces and Neighborhoods in the heart of Boston] ]

Bordered by Roslindale, Hyde Park, Dedham, Brookline, Newton, and Needham, West Roxbury's main thoroughfare is Centre Street, lined with local restaurants and commercial establishments. Today, the neighborhood's tree-lined streets and mostly single family homes give it a suburban feel in an urban setting. Life in the neighborhood centers on political and civic activism as well as local parishes and youth athletic leagues. West Roxbury is home to many of Boston's civil servants. The community boasts a significant proportion of persons of Irish decent as well as a smaller number of more recent Irish immigrants.The Roxbury Latin School, founded in 1645 and located on Saint Theresa Avenue in West Roxbury since 1927, is considered by some to be oldest school in continuous existence in North America, (for, unlike Boston Latin, which was founded in 1635, it stayed open during the Revolution since it was a Tory school) . The school's endowment is estimated at $143.8 million, the largest of any boys' school in the United States.

The neighborhood was home to an experimental transcendentalist Utopia community called Brook Farm, which attracted notable figures like Margaret Fuller and Nathaniel Hawthorne whose 1852 novel "A Blithedale Romance," is based on his stay there. . [ [http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/brfrm10.txt "My Friends at Brook Farm"] , John Van Der Zee Sears]

Like its neighboring communities, West Roxburys residential development grew with the construction of the West Roxbury branch of the Boston and Providence Rail Road; the area grew further with the development of electric streetcars.

Theodore Parker Church

At Centre and Corey Streets, the Theodore Parker Church features seven stained glass windows made by the Tiffany Studios between 1894 and 1927. The original church, designed in 1890 by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr., is now a parish hall. Henry Seaver designed the current church in 1900. Theodore Parker (1810-1860), an advocate of progressive religious ideas, abolitionism and women's suffrage, was minister of this Unitarian congregation from 1837 to 1846.

Westerly Burying Ground conflict and secession

Westerly Burying Ground (currently at Centre and Lagrange Streets) was established in 1683 to permit local burial of residents of Jamaica Plain and the western end of Roxbury. When West Roxbury was still part of Roxbury, the town’s first burial place was today’s Eliot Burying Ground, near the present-day Dudley Square. This was a long distance to travel for the inhabitants of West Roxbury and in 1683 the town selectmen voted to establish a local burying place, now known as Westerly Burying Ground. A conflict between the rural and more urbanized parts of the town led to the split of West Roxbury from Roxbury proper in 1851. [ [http://www.bostonfamilyhistory.com/neigh_wrox.html West Roxbury Timeline] . The town was incorporated May 24, 1851.] West Roxbury became part of the City of Boston on January 5, 1874. [ [http://www.cityofboston.gov/neighborhoods/neighborhoods.asp?ID=16 "About West Roxbury"] , City of Boston] Westerly Burying Ground served as this community’s burial place well into the nineteenth century. The oldest graves contain many of the town’s earliest and most prominent families. Eight veterans of the American Revolution and fifteen veterans of the American Civil War are also buried here. The site is significant for its large collection of three centuries of funerary art. One-third of its extant gravestones date from the eighteenth century; almost half date from the nineteenth century and only about twenty bear twentieth-century dates. Another distinguishing feature of Westerly Burying Ground is the number of individual mound tombs found here. Mound tombs at other burying grounds are typically larger, built to contain a number of bodies. The oldest gravestone, from 1691, commemorates James and Merriam Draper, members of a prominent West Roxbury family. Headstones provide an historic record of three centuries of West Roxbury residents and also illustrate the skills of local stone carvers.

West Roxbury Library

In 1876, the Boston Public Library created a delivery station when it took over the collection of the West Roxbury Free Library. In 1896, it became a full branch of the Boston Public Library. In 1921-22, a new library building was built at the present site. In 1977, a devastating fire destroyed the neighboring West Roxbury Congregational Church and the land was deeded to the Trustees of the Boston Public Library for the purpose of an addition to the Branch building. On September 24, 1989, the new addition was opened to the public.

Notable natives

* Edward Downes
* Anthony Michael Hall
* Patrick DeCoste
* Robert Gould Shaw
* Francis A. Sullivan
* Francis Joseph
* Willis Lent
* Chris Nilan, former NHL player and coach
* John J. Brennan, Jr., conservative political satirist
* Jay Wilson, D-List Actor

ites of interest

* The Roxbury Latin School
* Holy Name Parish School
* Saint Teresa of Ávila Church (Roman Catholic)
* Westerly Burying Ground
* Catholic Memorial High School (Massachusetts)
* Theodore Parker Church
* Holy Name Church (Roman Catholic)
* Boston Public Library West Roxbury Branch
* Millennium Park
* Brook Farm
* City of Boston Archives
* Billings Field
* Veterans Administration Hospital
* The Quarry
* The Grove
*Draper Field
*The Annunce
*Grove Spot
*The Paper Stands

Image gallery


Further reading

* Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, "West Roxbury (Then & Now)", Arcadia Publishing, Portsmouth, NH, 2003. ISBN 0738512478:A hundred comparative historic photos, 1850–2000, of the area around Centre Street.

External links

* [http://www.cityofboston.gov/neighborhoods/general.asp?id=16 West Roxbury neighborhood page] on [http://www.cityofboston.gov/ City of Boston website]
* [http://www.suffolkdeeds.com/Atlas%20Index.asp Suffolk County Atlas] West Roxbury maps: 1874, 1896, 1905, 1914
* [http://www.wrhistory.org/ West Roxbury Historical Society]
* [http://www.tparkerchurch.org/ Theodore Parker Church]
* [http://friendswrlibrary.org/ West Roxbury Branch Library]

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