Saturday, October 1, 2011

Canterbury Street School

Canterbury street school (BPL Flickr photo group).

Canterbury street school, marked in red, 1874 (JP Historical Society).

In my effort to document every pre-recent school in Jamaica Plain, I had failed until now to include the Canterbury street primary school. It sat on the corner of Canterbury and Bourne streets, just south of Forest Hills Cemetery. The photo above, just available online in the Boston Public Library Flickr photo group, shows a typical wood frame primary school of the time. What is most interesting to me is that the school was located in what was at the time the middle of nowhere. The map fragment above shows houses along Canterbury street, and a wider view would show more on Canterbury street to the south, and further on along Mt Hope street, but the total number of houses in the area was small. I'm guessing that these people either worked at the Cemetery or on farms in the area.

The Manual of the Public Schools of 1890 lists the following:

Elizabeth Kiggen, West St., Hyde Park. Cls. I. and If.
Mary E. Roome, 68 Day st., Roxbury. CI. III.
Ella Norton, Janitor, Sargent st., Rosliudale.

Two teachers for three classes, and one janitor.


  1. Interestingly, the Haley K-5 (at the corner of Walk Hill and American Legion) is located a mere stone's throw from the old site of the Canterbury school. Our daughter went to the Haley and its relative remoteness was one of the qualities that atttracted us to it.

    Btw, at the time that the 1874 map above was drafted, that area was not part of Jamaica Plain - it was officially recognized as Roslindale. Today, the Haley school, on the east side of American Legion, sits right at the border of Mattapan and Roslindale, and draws its students in nearly equal numbers from all three neighborhoods (one of it's strengths, imo).

  2. Jeff - thanks for the comment, but I'll have to disagree with you on the Roslindale location. The name Roslindale wasn't invented until about the 1870s-80s, so there was no community of Roslindale that could have borders at the time. When the Town of West Roxbury broke away from Roxbury, the Forest Hills cemetery a block away was generally considered part of Jamaica Plain. Also, the Minots and Olneys nearby considered themselves to live in Jamaica Plain.
    There never was any strict boundary between Jamaica Plain and Roslindale. The boundary came from the decisions of residents to identify themselves with one or the other. That could come from voting wards and precincts, schools attended, churches attended, postal districts, etc. In the 20th Century, this area became known as White City, and was considered by local residents to be Jamaica Plain down to about Neponset street.