Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rachel Allen House for Colored Women - Update

I did a road trip to South Huntington avenue to get some pictures and refresh my memory. Refresh I did, when I saw the Sherrill House, which I had long forgotten. I passed it many times on the streetcar, but never paid enough attention for it to lock into my memory. Or else I'm just getting old. In any case.... a quick search to the Sherrill House online paid dividends. You can read about the history of the Sherrill House here. Sure enough, the Sherrill House began its life as the Trinity Church Home for the Aged (Rachel Allen Memorial). The original building was closed in 1966, and torn down in 1968, replaced by a new brick building in 1970. That building housed the merged Trinity Church house and the St Luke's Home for Convalescents, formerly of Roxbury in the new Sherrill House.

So now we know what happened to the Rachel Allen home. Except, what happened to the "Colored" part? Can I speculate that the word was removed - one might say whitewashed (pun intended) - from history out of some fear of giving offence? If so, the law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head, as the existence of an institution for the care of African-Americans in Jamaica Plain - and Boston - is removed from memory. I would have thought that the current institution would be proud to have descended from the impulse that led to the founding of the original Rachel Allen Home for Colored Women.

Am I making too much of this? Maybe... but I'd bet dollars to donuts that I'm more right than not.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. The purpose, in those days, was no doubt charitable, rather than racist. The other charitable homes for women (was this one for aged women?) were probably "white only." (I wonder if, ironically, the Roxbury Home for Aged Women (now Sophia Snow House) excluded Blacks.) Nevertheless, I agree this is an important part of local history which should be preserved, not erased. Dale Mitchell, Paul Gore St, JP