Puritan Era Sites in Boston, MassachusettsThis page contains a list of various 17th century sites in Boston and describes their locations and the plaques found at many of these sites.
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John Winthrop Related Sites in Boston, MA
1. City Park, Charlestown…posthole markers, foundation stones, and a plaque marking site of Great House of John Winthrop, built in 1629. This was Winthrop's first house in America. An archaeological dig was done here during the "Big Dig" in the 1980s which uncovered the foundation. Winthrop occupied this house shortly after stepping off the Arabella upon his arrival in New England in 1630.
2. 53 State Street… plaque commemorating site of Winthrop's first house in Boston. Plaque has a picture of Winthrop and reads: Near this site was the first house in Boston of John Winthrop. Born 1588 Died 1649. “Governor of Massachusetts for twelve years. First elected October 20, 1629. Brought the charter from England June 12, 1630. This tablet placed by the city of Boston, 1930." Winthrop Built this house after moving across the Charles River to what it now downtown Boston.
3. Spring Lane (plaque attached to the side of Winthrop Building, 276-278 Washington Street). Plaque reads: “Winthrop Building…site of the home of the city’s first colonial governor, John Winthrop.” This was the site of Winthrop’s final home in Boston.
4. Boston Common, (between Tremont and Park Street) The Common is the oldest public park in America. There is a plaque commemorating site of sale of Boston Common from William Blackstone to John Winthrop in 1634. Plaque reads: “Boston Common - In or about the year of our Lord One thousand six hundred thirty and four the then present inhabiants of sd Town of Boston of Whom the Honble John Winthrop Esqr Govnr of the Colony was chiefe did treate and agree With Mr William Blackstone for the purchase of his Estate and rights in any Lands lving within said neck of Land called Boston after Which purchase the Town laid out a plan for a trayning field which ever since and now is used for the feeding of cattell - The deposition of John Odlin and others Concerning the sale of Blackstones land known as Boston Common”
5. King’s Chapel Burying Ground (Tremont Street)-site of Winthrop’s grave (1649)…also his son and grandson’s.
Other 17th century colonial sites in Boston:
1. 51 Beacon Street William Blackstone's farm - plaque. Blackstone was Boston's first permanent settler, and he moved to Rhode Island in 1635. Blackstone owned most of downtown Boston before he invited the Puritans in Charlestown to settle on his land in 1630.
2. 19 North Square- Paul Revere House –c. 1680 According to the Revere House website, “The home was built about 1680 on the site of the former parsonage of the Second Church of Boston. Increase Mather, the Minister of the Second Church, and his family (including his son, Cotton Mather) occupied this parsonage from 1670 until it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1676. A large and fashionable new home was built at the same location about four years later..”
3. "Hanging Tree" (Elm) site, plaque, Boston Common. “Witches” were hanged here in 1648 and 1656. Mary Dyers was hanged here in 1660. The tree was used until gallows were constructed in 1769. Plaque reads: “Site of the Great Elm. Here the Sons of Liberty Assembled, Here Jesse Lee, Methodist pioneer preached in 1790. The landmark of the Common, the Elm blew down in 1876 – placed by the N.E. Methodist Historical Society.”
4. 45 School Street-plaque on the sidewalk-site of first public school (Boston Latin School) in US built in 1645 (founded in 1635) ...across the street another plaque reads "1635-1935 On this site stood the Public Latin School, 1748-1844 directly opposite stood the first and second school building occupied by this school 1645-1748 This tablet placed her on the 300th Anniversary April 23, 1935 by the City of Boston."
5. 60 School Street (plaque attached to Omni Parker House Hotel). Plaque reads: “1630-1673 Zacheus Bosworth, Captain Thomas Clarke and Lieutenant Richard Cook dwelt here on a school house land…”
6. Spring Lane (plaque attached to side of Minot Building, 111 Devonshire). Plaque reads: “1620-1920 Mary Chilton the only Mayflower Passenger who removed from Plymouth to Boston died here in 1679. John Winslow and Mary Chilton were married at Plymouth about 1624, came to Boston about 1657 and bought a house on this site in 1671. John Winslow died here in 1674. As a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620, Mary Chilton came to America before any other white woman who settled in Boston. Memorial erected by Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants.”
7. Spring Lane (plaque attached to Winthrop Building, 276-278 Washington Street). Plaque reads: “Here was the Great Spring which for more than two centuries gave water to the People of Boston-The Bostonian Society has set this tablet – 1907.”
8. Kings Chapel Episcopal Church (58 Tremont Street). The church was founded in 1686 and the first structure built on this site was completed in 1689. The Royal Governor took the land for the church from the municipal burying ground, because none of the Puritan colonists would sell their land for an Anglican Church to be built (they still remembered the persecution in England). The current structure was completed in 1754. A plaque on the school street side of the building Commemorates it’s founding.
9. Copp’s Hill Burying Ground (Hull Street), founded in 1659, in the North End was Boston’s second oldest burying ground. It was first used for burials in 1660, and it was named after William Copp, a shoemaker who originally owned the land. The cemetery was first named Windmill Hill Burying Ground, then Snowhill, before it was renamed after Copp. Famous 17th churchman, Increase Mather and his son Cotton Mather are buried here.
10. Kings Chapel Burying Ground (adjacent to 58 Tremont Street). This is Boston’s first burying ground, it was founded by the city as a municipal burying ground in 1630. It included the graves of Mary Chilton (Mayflower Passenger), John Winthrop (first governor) and others.
11. Bowdoin Street (on the side of the state house)…a large column with an eagle on top of it commemorates the site of the Beacon (1634-1790) which Beacon Hill is named after. A plaque on the monument reads: “In 1634 the General Court caused a beacon to be placed on top of this hill. In 1790 a brick and stone monument designed by Charles Bulfinch replaced the beacon. But was removed in1811 when the hill was cut down. It is now reproduced in stone by the Bunker Hill Monument Association - 1898”
12. Religious dissident, Anne Hutchinson’s house stood on the site of the Old Corner Bookstore on the corner Washington Street and School Street. Hutchinson was eventually forced to leave her home in Boston, and she fled to Rhode Island.
13. Granary Burying Ground, (across from 120 Tremont Street) was founded in 1660 as the third burying ground in Boston. The name "Granary" was not used until 1737 when it was renamed after the Granary located where Park Street Church is today.
14. "State Street," originally called "King Street" in the centuries before the Revolution (named in honor of the British monarch), was the site of the first Puritan settlement in Boston in 1630. Long Wharf, at the end of State Street on Boston Harbor, is the oldest wharf in Boston, being used since the late 1600s.
15. First Church of Boston (Puritan) was first gathered in 1629 in Charlestown, but was relocated to present-day State Street in Boston in 1632 when a crude structure with mud walls and a thatched roof was built. Eventually, a larger church was built nearby on State Street, nearly across from where the Old State House is today. John Wilson and John Cotton were the earliest pastors. The State Street church burned in the great fire of 1711. After a series of moves, the congregation still exists today as the Unitarian "First Church of Boston" on 66 Marlborough St.
17. Blake House (735 Columbia Road, Dorchester) is just outside of downtown and was built in 1648. This is one of the few "West-of-England" medieval style houses in New England.
18. Pierce House (Oakton Avenue, Dorchester), also is just outside of downtown and was built in 1683. It was originally a farmhouse built in the East Anglican techniques and remains as one of three houses built in the Boston area in the seventeenth century.
19. One and Two Center Plaza, Tremont Street, (in back of these buildings near the John Adams Courthouse), two plaques:
1. Plaque 1 reads: "On this site stood the house of Reverend John Cotton vicar of Boston in
Old England, Minister of the First Church in Boston, New England 1633-1652, Here also
lived Sir Henry Vane, Governor of Massachusetts 1636-1637 an ardent defender of Civil
Liberty. This tablet placed by the city of Boston, 1930."
2. Plaque 2 reads: "On this site resided Governor John Endicott from 1635 to 1665 and here
Elihu Yale founder of Yale College [University] was born 5 April 1649"
20. 50 Salem Street, (Goody Glover's Irish Pub...side of the building) Plaque reads: "Goodwife Ann Glover: Not far from here on 16 November 1688, Goodwife Ann Glover an elderly Irish widow, was hanged as a witch because she had refused to renounce her Catholic faith. Having been deported from her native Ireland to the Baarbados with her husband, who died there because of his own loyalty to the Catholic faith, she came to Boston where she was living for at least six years before she was unjustly condemned to death. This memorial is erected to commemorate "Goody" Glover as the first Catholic martyr in Massachusetts."
21. Harvard Yard, at Harvard University in nearby Cambridge. Harvard has been at this site since its founding in Newtowne in 1636. Although none of the original buildings from the 17th century survive, Harvard Yard dates from the founding of the college. It is located adjacent to Harvard Square. The oldest surving Harvard College building in the Yard, Massachusetts Hall, dates from 1720. Excavations in the Yard are currently uncovering the remains of the original Indian College at Harvard from the 1600s.
22. Old South Church, 645 Boylston Street, founded in 1669 Plaque on the front of the building reads: "1669 Old South Church, Preserved and blessed of GOD for more than two hundred years while worshipping on its original site corner of Washington and Milk Street where it was removed to this building in 1875 amid constant proofs of HIS guidance and loving favour -Qui transtulit sustinet" (Latin for "He who has brought us thus far will sustain us")
23. Corner of State and Washington Street, plaque commemorating: Robert Keayne (1595-1655), first Captain of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. Keayne had been a member of the Honorable Artillery Company of London. Keayne's home was on the corner of State and Washington Street.
This list of seventeenth century sites in Boston is still in progress...
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