William Dawes’ Secret

William Dawes, Jr., is known today only as the other rider who carried news of the British army march to Lexington in April 1775. Like the more famous Paul Revere, Dawes was deeply involved in the Patriot movement for years before and after that date. This talk reveals Dawes the militia organizer, the fashion icon, even the arms smuggler whose secret mission for the Patriots’ Committee of Safety helped bring on the Revolutionary War. The speaker will be J. L. Bell, who is the author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War. He maintains the Boston1775.net website, offering daily helpings of history, analysis, and unabashed gossip about Revolutionary New England.

Hidden History of Boston Book Talk

Though arguably America's most historic city, Boston also claims its share of little-known events. Our colonial past saw riotous mobs celebrating their hatred of the pope in an annual celebration called Pope's Night; William Monroe Trotter, champion of civil rights at the turn of the last century, published the independent African American newspaper the Boston Guardian; In 1991, a centuries-long turf war played out on the streets of quiet Chinatown, ending in the massacre of five men in a back alley. The cover of the book features Amelia Earhart who got a flying start in Boston. In her new book, author and historian Dina Vargo shines light into the cobwebbed corners of Boston's hidden history. Dina Vargo is a volunteer docent for Boston by Foot, where she developed an interest for writing off-beat walking tours.

The English Garden: Perfection on Earth – An Evening with Curt DiCamillo

In this lavishly illustrated talk, noted historian Curt DiCamillo will discuss the development of the English landscape tradition and demonstrate why the English garden has often been called Britain’s single most important contribution to world culture. Though the earliest English gardens were planted by Roman conquerors in the 1st century AD, the English garden as we know it today is a designed landscape style that was first developed in early 18th century England as part of the setting surrounding a grand English country house. So successful was this English innovation that it quickly spread throughout Europe, becoming the dominant gardening style, replacing the formalized, symmetrical French style of gardening—itself based on Italian Renaissance examples. Though indebted to the earlier fashions that had reigned supreme for centuries, the newly-developed and uniquely English garden was a stylistic breakthrough, the likes of which had never before been seen in Europe. Often called “educated nature” by its proponents, this innovative English garden style offered an idealized view of nature influenced by the landscape paintings of Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin.

250th Anniversary of the First Church in Jamaica Plain

We are approaching the 250th anniversary of an act of the Massachusetts colonial legislature finalized on May 26, 1773.  The act defined the boundaries of a new standing order parish on the “pond plain in the Jamaica end” of the Town of Roxbury.  These standing order parishes were part of the organization of the colony, providing for the militia as well as taxation used for a meetinghouse and an educated teacher. It can be argued that the founding of the Third Parish of Roxbury (now the First Church in Jamaica Plain) coincides with the beginning of an established Jamaica Plain. George Wardle, historian of the First Church in Jamaica Plain, will tell the tale of Suzanna and Benjamin Pemberton and how they doggedly lead their neighbors in a long process to get permission to carve out a new parish in the middle of Roxbury. They persisted in the quest despite opposition by the two existing parishes (who did not want to give up tax-paying parishioners to another church). It was quite a feat, one that was almost undone in 1786 during the economic struggles that occurred after the American Revolution.

Casey Arborway Tour: Rediscovering the Original Topography of Forst Hills

Join the JP Historical Society and local historian Richard Heath for a walking tour of the imagination. Not one square inch remains of the Forest Hills of forty years ago; the Southwest Corridor and the Casey Arborway obliterated all architectural landmarks from that era. And yet the vista and connection that Frederick Law Olmsted once designed and supervised for the parkway between the Arboretum and Franklin Park (most of which was destroyed in 1952 for the Casey Overpass) have been remade. Our walk will follow Olmsted's plan (and end at the lower busway of Forest Hills Station). The tour will also cover the original transportation patterns which characterized Forest Hills well before Olmsted made his plan, those of the Norfolk & Bristol Turnpike and the Boston & Providence Railroad.