Monday, September 26, 2011

Boston: African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School


On a hill named Beacon, on a street named Joy, stand the African Meeting House and the Abiel Smith School. The African Meeting House (1806) is the oldest existing black church building in the country built primarily by black artisans. The Abiel Smith School (1835) was the nation's first building constructed for the sole purpose of housing a black public school. This National Trust Historic Site is owned and managed by the Museum of African American History.


The African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School is owned and operated by the Museum of African American History.

Preservation History

At the end of the 19th century, as the African American community began to migrate from Boston's West End to the surrounding neighborhoods of South End and Roxbury, the building was sold to a Jewish congregation. It served as a synagogue until it was acquired by the Museum of African American History (MAAH) in 1972. In 1987, the MAAH completed its first phase of historic restoration work on the African Meeting House. The project restored the building's interior to its documented 1854 design. A second and final phase of restoration is currently underway to continue the building's 1850s transformation while, concurrently, making the site fully handicap accessible.

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