Stoughton School, 40 River Street


Image: The Stoughton School is also on the pending list for designation as a Boston Landmark, 40 River Street

The only surviving school-house from among those built in the 1850s and 1860s and the oldest surviving wooden school-house in Boston. In 1803 John Capen, Jr., gave the land on River Street to build a school-house. In 1849 the schools in Dorchester were given names and the school on River Street was named the Winthrop School in honor of Governor Winthrop. This earlier building was replaced by the existing structure in March, 1856; the original (see photo in section below) was sold to John Preston for $125 in behalf of Mr. Crehore and was moved next door to Mr. Crehore’s land and made into a store. A new building was opened in March 1856 for the use of the united “Winthrop” and “Eliot” Schools. The school-house lot was enlarged by a purchase of land from the estate of Thomas Crehore.

In January, 1856, the Washington School opened in Neponset, combining the Stoughton and Neponset Schools, freeing up the name Stoughton. The school on River Street at the Lower Mills, which opened in March, 1856, was named in honor of Gov. William Stoughton, Dorchester’s most prominent citizen of the latter half of the seventeenth century.

The schools built in this period were: Washington School (Jan., 1856) in Neponset; Everett School (Feb., 1856) on Sumner Street opposite Albright Court; Stoughton School (March, 1856); Mather School (Sept., 1856) on Meeting House Hill; Gibson School (May, 1857) on School Street; Harris School (1861) on Adams Street; and Tileston School (1868) on Norfolk Street. Of all these buildings, the Stoughton is the only to survive.

This building was moved toward the street and is now part of a complex of residential units.

Source: History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Boston, 1859.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, this property, which had belonged to the Knights of Columbus (under the name Cavanaugh Hall), figured in the supermarket rivalry between Stop & Shop and Shaws. The Star Market on River Street was acquired by Shaws which purchased the property at the corner of Washington and River Streets. Stop & Shop had purchased several properties including the Stoughton School building and land to bolster its effort to build a supermarket. When Shaws won out, Stop & Shop refused to sell the parcels that it had acquired, keeping the Stoughton School building vacant. This forced Shaws to go underground to accomodate parking for the new 44,191-square-foot supermarket opened in July, 2003, at the Washington and River Street intersection.


Posted on

April 10, 2020