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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Beauford in Boston: Copley Square and Black Beacon Hill

I visited Boston this week and was anxious to see some of the places that Beauford frequented during the six years that he lived here in the mid- to late 1920s. What I know of this period comes from Beauford's biography - Amazing Grace. I took photos of several locations mentioned in the biography and am pleased to share them with you in this posting, which is the first of two that explore "Beauford in Boston."

Beauford frequented the Boston Public Library at Copley Square. An avid reader, he spent a good deal of time there.

Boston Public Library
© Discover Paris!

Trinity Church dominates Copley Square. George Ruffin, a close friend of Beauford and a member of a prominent black Boston family, was a soloist at this church. Beauford attended many concerts there.

Trinity Church viewed from Dartmouth Street
© Discover Paris!

The Ruffins lived on Charles Street, which traverses Beacon Hill. Beauford attended the Charles Street Meeting House, located at the corner of Mt. Vernon Street and Charles Street on the north slope of the hill. This side of the hill was more densely populated and integrated than the southern slope that faces Boston Common.

Charles Street Meeting House
© Discover Paris!

The meeting house was constructed by the Third Baptist Church of Boston in 1807. The congregation maintained segregated seating. Timothy Gilbert, a white member of the congregation, was expelled during the 1830s for inviting black friends to sit with him in his pew. Gilbert and others went on to found the First Baptist Free Church - one of the first integrated churches in America.

In 1876, the AME Church purchased the Charles Street building. It served as the congregation's home until 1939 and occupied the church at the time that Beauford lived in Boston (1923-1929).

Beauford's biography indicates that Beauford admired the old homes on Beacon Hill and especially liked those on Louisburg Square.

Louisburg Square, 1930
Photographer: Leon H. Abdalian
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Louisburg Square today
© Discover Paris!

The Charles Street Meeting House is a featured stop and Louisburg Square is on the route followed by Boston's Black Heritage Trail.

Black Heritage Trail Sign
© Discover Paris!

I highly recommend this walk, which is organized by the National Park Service. For information, visit www.nps.gov/boaf.

Next week: The Public Gardens and Boston Common

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