Dorchester Atheneum
Friday, January 22, 2021
Site Tips
> Home
> Agriculture
> Architecture
> Artists
> Authors
> Books
> Cemeteries
> Churches
> Dorchester Historical Society
> Entertainment
> Entertainers
> Industry & Commerce
> Institutions
> Maps
> Monuments
> Myths
> Postcard Images
> Public Figures
> Schools
   > Dorchester High School
   > Gibson School
   > Harris School
   > Home School for Young Ladies
   > Industrial School for Girls
   > Richard Mather School
   > More on Schools..
> Town History
> Walking Tours

Mather School
Click image for more information
 Meeting House Hill, Dorchester
Built 1905. The school was certified as being practically complete on February 10, 1905 and was occupied for school purposes on March 31,1905.
Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, Achitects

The Mather School, the oldest free public school in North America, is named for Richard Mather. Mather was an English clergyman who emigrated to Boston in 1635 and settled in Dorchester. Richard Mather contributed the preface and the versification of several psalms in The Bay Psalm Book which was the first book printed in the American Colonies.


What's In a Name? Names of Boston's Schools: Their Origin. Boston: School Volunteers for Boston and the Boston Public Schools, 1980.

[Atheneuem Editor's note: The title of oldest free public school is claimed by many communities. Dorchester was first in that it was the first to use public tax money to fund the school. The Boston Latin School may be older but was free at the beginning only in the sense that it was open to everyone. The students still had to pay. The Roxbury Latin School seems to claim that it is the oldest in continuous operation. Little nuances can produce many "firsts."]

Old Mather School
Mather School
Click image for more information
 The earlier building of the Mather School was built in 1856 and was located where the parking lot for the school is now. The postcard show the old building to the right and the current building on the left. After the new building was constructed, the old building seems to have taken on the name of the Southworth School.

Edward Southworth School
Edward Southworth School, Meeting House Hill
Click image for more information
 The old Mather School was renamed the Edward Southworth School when the new Mather School was built.

Do you know something about this topic? Do you have other pictures or items or knowledge to share? What about a personal story? Are you a collector? Do you have questions? Contact us here.
Created: March 7, 2004   Modified: April 23, 2011