Schools

Education in Dorchester

Dorchester’s first school was funded out of public funds starting in 1639 and is thought to be the first public school in what is now the United States.  The school system grew to many school buildings and many teachers by the time of the town’s annexation to Boston on January 1, 1870.  The city has continued to open new schools ever since.  There were also distinguished private schools such as the Dorchester Academy and the Mrs. Saunders and Miss Beach’s Academy.  Scroll down for individual schools.

Scroll down to select individual schools.

The Dorchester Town Records state definitely that on May 20 (Old Style), 1639, it was ordered that:

“There shalbe a rent of 20 ls yeerely foreur imposed vpon Tomsons Iland to bee payd p euy p’son that hath p’prtie in the said Iland according to the p’portion that any such p’son shall fro tyme to time inioy and psesse there, and this towards the mayntenance of a schoole in Dorchestr …” [1]

The town voted to lay a tax on the proprietors (Clapp)–the money went into the public treasury and was used for the school. This is the first instance known of public tax being used for schools in North America.

Boston Latin claims to be the oldest school, but it was not supported by public money until a later date. Roxbury Latin has claimed to be the oldest continuously running school (Boston Latin has been said to have closed during the Revolution), but Roxbury was not supported by public money in the 1630s. Others may claim a first as well, but Dorchester was the first to use public money for the support of its school.

Although early schools were called “free” or “public”, but in common parlance in the seventeenth century, those words meant free to anyone who paid their tuition (Littlefield).

“Dorchester Home to the Country’s First Public School”

To download  pdf version of this article by Anthony Sammarco, published in the Dorchester Community News, August 25, 1995, click on this link

https://dorchesteratheneum2.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/sammarco-school.pdf

The first schoolhouse in Dorchester was situated on what has been known as “Settlers’ Street,” near the corner of the present Pleasant and Cottage Streets and consisted of a single room. It served until 1694 when a contract was made with John Trescot to build a house twenty feet long and nineteen feet wide, with a ground floor and a chamber above, a flight of stairs, and a chimney. The contract required the building to be boarded and clapboarded; to be filled up between the studs; to be fully covered with boards and shingles. The site of this building is supposed to be the hill near the meeting-house, on what is now known as Winter Street.

The successor of this first school is the Mather School atop Meeting House Hill, the second building of that name. The old Mather School was located on the same site where the fire station is now located. The old Mather School was renamed the Southworth School for the time it remained after the new Mather School was built.

The first high school, organized in December, 1852, was built near the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Centre Street.

Sources:

Clapp, Ebenezer. History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts. By a Committee of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society. Boston, 1859, p. 419-421.

Dorchester Town Records. Fourth Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston. Second edition. Boston, 1883.

Littlefield, George Emery. Early Schools and School-Books of New England. New York: Russell & Russell, 1965, p. 70.

Orcutt, William Dana. Good Old Dorchester. A Narrative History of the Town, 1630-1893. Cambridge, 1893, p. 290-302.

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


[1] William Dana Orcutt.  Good Old Dorchester. A Narrative History of the Town, 1630-1893. Cambridge, 1893, p. 289-302.

22 Bushnell Street

22 Bushnell Street

Bailey Street Schools

Bailey Street Schools

Benedict Fenwick School

Benedict Fenwick School

Benedict Fenwick School, 150 Magnolia Street

Benedict Fenwick School, 150 Magnolia Street

Benjamin Cushing School or Robinson School

Benjamin Cushing School or Robinson School

Butler School

Butler School

Charles H. Taylor School

Charles H. Taylor School

Comte de Rochambeau School

Comte de Rochambeau School

Daly Industrial School

Daly Industrial School

Dorchester Academy

Dorchester Academy

Dorchester Home to the Country’s First Public School

Dorchester Home to the Country’s First Public School

Edward Everett School

Edward Everett School

Elbridge Smith School, Dorchester’s Second High School

Elbridge Smith School, Dorchester’s Second High School

Ellen H. Richards School

Ellen H. Richards School

Ellison-Parks Early Education School

Ellison-Parks Early Education School

Emily A. Fifield School

Emily A. Fifield School

Florence Nightingale School

Florence Nightingale School

Frank V. Thompson School

Frank V. Thompson School

Franklin Park Auto School

Franklin Park Auto School

Gibson School

Gibson School

Gilbert Stuart School

Gilbert Stuart School

Grover S. Cleveland School

Grover S. Cleveland School

Harris School

Harris School

Henry L. Pierce School

Henry L. Pierce School

Home School for Young Ladies

Home School for Young Ladies

Industrial School for Girls

Industrial School for Girls

Industrial School for Girls

Industrial School for Girls

Industrial School for Girls, 232 Centre Street

Industrial School for Girls, 232 Centre Street

James J. Chittick School

James J. Chittick School

Jeremiah E. Burke High School

Jeremiah E. Burke High School

John Greenleaf Whittier School

John Greenleaf Whittier School

John L. Motley School

John L. Motley School

John Marshall School

John Marshall School

John P. Holland School

John P. Holland School

John W. McCormack School

John W. McCormack School

John Winthrop School

John Winthrop School

Joseph Lee School

Joseph Lee School

Latin School

Latin School

Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School

Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School

Lucy Stone School

Lucy Stone School

Martin Luther King, Jr., School

Martin Luther King, Jr., School

Mary Hemenway School

Mary Hemenway School

Material about Dorchester Schools

Material about Dorchester Schools

Mattahunt Elementary School

Mattahunt Elementary School

Mildred Avenue Middle School

Mildred Avenue Middle School

Minot School

Minot School

Old School House, River Street

Old School House, River Street

Oliver Wendell Holmes School

Oliver Wendell Holmes School

Patrick O’Hearn School

Patrick O’Hearn School

Paul A. Dever School

Paul A. Dever School

Pauline A. Shaw School

Pauline A. Shaw School

Phillips Brooks School

Phillips Brooks School

Quincy Dickerman School

Quincy Dickerman School

Rafael Hernandez School

Rafael Hernandez School

Richard J. Murphy School

Richard J. Murphy School

Richard Mather School

Richard Mather School

Robert Treat Paine School

Robert Treat Paine School

Robinson School

Robinson School

Roger Clap School

Roger Clap School

Roger Wolcott School

Roger Wolcott School

Samuel de Champlain School

Samuel de Champlain School

Sarah Greenwood School

Sarah Greenwood School

Saunders and Beach Academy

Saunders and Beach Academy

Solomon Lewenberg School

Solomon Lewenberg School

South Boston Harbor Charter School / Boston Collegiate Charter School

South Boston Harbor Charter School / Boston Collegiate Charter School

Stoughton School

Stoughton School

Stoughton School, 36-40 River Street

Stoughton School, 36-40 River Street

Stoughton School, 40 River Street

Stoughton School, 40 River Street

T Woodrow Wilson School

T Woodrow Wilson School

Thomas F. Leen School

Thomas F. Leen School

Thomas J. Kenney School

Thomas J. Kenney School

Tileston School

Tileston School

William Bradford School

William Bradford School

William E. Russell School

William E. Russell School

William Endicott School

William Endicott School

William Monroe Trotter School

William Monroe Trotter School