Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mt Hope Home For Fallen Women

Richards, L.J., 1899 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates)
David Rumsey Collection

The section of Jamaica Plain borderd by Hyde Park avenue, Walk Hill street and Canterbury street was known as Mount Hope in the late 19th Century. Mount Hope cemetery was east of Canterbury street, and the nearby Mount Hope train station was the first south of Forest Hills. Once more, it was a fire insurance map that revealed a long-forgotten institution to me. If I read and speculate correctly, the North End Mission was attempting to remove prostitutes from the temptations of Boston proper, with its docks, warehouses and factories full of laboring men, and deliver them to the safety of rural Jamaica Plain.

Boston Daily Globe June 20, 1873

North End Mission Opening of the New Home at Mount Hope.

The opening of the country home recently purchased by the North End Mission, to further its good work, occurred yesterday afternoon. A large number of the friends of the mission assembled at the house, early in the afternoon, and the time until four o'clock was spent in looking over the new purchase and in mutual congratulation over the promise of future good which the acquisition of the premises by the mission gives.

The purchase made by the mission is a portion of the "Brewer estate," about an eighth of a mile from Mount Hope station on the Providence road, which is but six miles from the city proper. The portion of the estate purchased includes the roomy and substantial dwelling-house, barn and outbuildings, together with about five acres of land, the entire cost of which, to the mission, was but $20,000, although $28,000 was the price at which it was held for a long time. A payment of $17,000 has been made on the purchase from the half of the amount raised at the Music Hall fair, which half was reserved for this purpose, and it is expected that the friends of the mission will see that the remaining debt of $3000 is speedily provided for. The dwelling-house will be arranged to contained twenty rooms, to be used as parlor, dining-room, sewing and sleeping rooms. The furnishing of ten of these rooms has already been provided for by the personal efforts of the lady managers fo the mission, the ladies of Park Street Church having taken the task of furnishing the remaining rooms, the making of needed alterations and additions, the stocking of the gardens and farm, purchase of necessary tools and animals, much more money is needed, and toward this object further contributions will be gratefully received, either at Mount Hope or through the treasurer, J.G. Parker, 10 South Market street. All contributions of materials of any sort will be delivered by Wentworth's express, 8 Court square, if directed to Boston North End Mission, Mount Hope.

The purpose of the home at Mount Hope is to provide a place where the mission may take the fallen women, upon whom it is expending its efforts, where they may be entirely removed from all temptation, and may be able to support themselves by their labor at the needle, in the laundry, or in various duties which the management of a country establishment of such size imposes. It is not proposed to take any women who are not willing to stay at the home for a periond of six months, as it is felt that a lasting hold upon them cannot be obtained in any less time. The success of the mission, under all its disadvantages, in saving four-fifths of its proteges is a strong argument in favor of the improved results, with this strong additional helper in the work. The full details of the plan proposed at the home will be stated in the circular soon to be issued by the mission.

The exercises yesterday, to commerate the opening, were of a very informal character. The company were called together in the parlor, by Dr. Eben Tourjec(sp?), who, in a breif manner, welcomed those present, and stated a few facts in regard to the new undertaking. Prayer was then offered by the Rev. Mr. Chapman, followed by Scripture reading, by the Rev J.W. Hamilton of Grace Church, and singing. Brief addresses upon the importance and good promise of the home were then made by the Rev. Dr. Kirke, ex-Governor Claflin, Ezra Farnsworth and the Rev. C.M. Winchester of the mission. A feast of strawberries, cake and cream was then served by the ladies, and the company dispersed.


  1. On the tour of the area with the JP Historical Society, I also learned that kids from the North End had stays there. The idea was to take them away from the dangers, bad influences and pollution of Boston. It was kind of an early form of the Fresh Air Camps of today for NYC kids.

    That pond on the property too had been there before white settlers to the area. It lasted until a cholora epidemic in the early 1900s. Health authorities filled in open bodies of water. Now that block is part of the Woodbourne area.

  2. Interesting. It's pure speculation, but it could be that as the open prostitution of the 19th century was gradually put down by reformers, they were able to shift their focus to more general social work for this facility.

    The JPHS walks are great - I went on the last Woodbourne walk this year. I joined at the same time.