Lower Roxbury

Lower Roxbury Walk

“Voyages of Women” is the second in a series of walks which have been developed under the auspices of the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail by teachers and students in the Boston Public Schools. This walk was developed by six, seventh and eighth graders in a Friday morning club at the Henry Dearborn School in Roxbury. After choosing the name for their club, the students visited with local women and organizations, conducted interviews, made a quilt and a giant banner, chose a name for the walk, and designed the logo. The students conducted a tour for first and second graders who had designed their own trail in another Roxbury neighborhood. If you are interested in developing a trail in your neighborhood, please contact us. We’d be glad to help!

LR1: A present-day middle school named after the poet Phillis Wheatley
wheatleyThe Wheatley Middle School is named after Phillis Wheatley [c.1753-1784], one of the earliest African-American poets. She was kidnapped in Africa when she was seven years old and brought to Boston. She learned Latin and wrote her first poem at age 11. A book of her poems was published in London in 1773.

LR2: A present-day middle school which formerly housed two different girls high schools
“Erected by the City of Boston. Dedicated to the education of girls. Anno Dom. 1912.” This is the inscription on the Dearborn Middle School, which began its “life” as the High School of Practical Arts. It prepared girls “to meet the problems of life, inside the home and in the business world, in a dignified and intelligent manner.” All girls took classes in cooking, laundry, sewing, nursing, and home economics, as well as regular academic subjects.

After the High School of Practical Arts closed, the building became the new home of Girls’ High School—the first high school for girls in Boston. The school opened in 1852 in downtown Boston with 100 students, moved to the South End in 1870, and then to 35 Greenville St. in 1954. The present library is dedicated to Julia Buck, Class of 1887, who served as secretary of the school from 1908-1928. When she died in 1928, she left a small legacy to the school.

LR3: A community tot lot run by activist Mildred Daniels
The Tot Lot is a pleasant and very special park because it brings the community together. The park has a good history. Every year in the summer, Ms. Daniels, who runs the park, opens the gates for the community to enjoy themselves in peace without worrying about violence. The land for the Tot Lot was donated by the Carmelite Monastery next door.

LR4: A Carmelite Monastery where the nuns pray for and serve the community
The Carmelite Monastery is down the street from the Dearborn. It has been there since 1896. It is a church and a house put together. The women that we saw there were very wise. The nuns stay inside the monastery, grow crops in their back yard, and pray for the community to be safe and clean. Working with Ms. Daniels, they gave the land for the Tot Lot next to the monastery. Their door is open all the time. We think that no matter what happens, the monastery will always be around.

LR5: A boulevard named for activist Melnea Cass
Melnea Cass [1896-1978], known as the “First Lady of Roxbury,” fought vigorously and successfully for the improvement of services and resources for Boston’s black community for over 60 years. A graduate of Girls’ High School in 1914, she encouraged women to vote in the 1920’s, helped found Freedom House, was president of the Boston NAACP, and demonstrated for integrated public schools in the 1970’s. Mrs. Cass received many awards and honors, was named Mass. “Mother of the Year” in 1974, and even met Queen Elizabeth. In 1981, a new thoroughfare – Melnea Cass Boulevard in Lower Roxbury – was named in her honor.

LR6: A mural which honors three local women activists
If you’re around Dudley Street near Davis Supermarket, take a look at the big mural and find a friend to talk about it. It’s the Unity Mural, created by Dudley area kids working with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). Its sign says “Unity Through Diversity.” Ms. Daniels, whom we visited, is in the mural. DSNI, which includes people from many cultures, is working to organize, control and develop the vacant land in the neighborhood. The people have cleaned up trash and helped create new housing.