African Meeting House/Abiel Smith School

African Meeting House

Meeting HouseThe oldest black church edifice still standing in the United States, the African Meeting House's origins lie in the fact that churches were segregated in Boston. African Americans could not be voting members of churches and were only allowed to sit in the balconies. An African-American preacher, Thomas Paul, started a black congregation that bought land for a church in the West End. Cato Gardner, who was born in Africa, raised enough money to inspire the congregation to dedicate a plaque in his honor. It reads "Cato Gardner, first Promoter of this Building 1806" and is still above the entranceway. The Meeting House was completed in 1806. At the dedication ceremony African Americans sat in the balcony and whites sat in the pews.

By the late 1800s, African Americans were living primarily in the South End and Roxbury. At that time the African Meeting House was sold to a Jewish congregation. The Museum of Afro American History bought the building in 1972. Located at 8 Smith Court.

Abiel Smith School

Until the 1834 construction of the Abiel Smith School, the school for African-American children was housed in the African Meeting House. Smith, a white businessman, donated $2,000 to the city of Boston to help educate African-American children.

As early as 1787, the African-American community in Boston petitioned the state legislature to give black children access to public schools. Their requests were denied. The community started a school in the home of Prince Hall, which moved to the African Meeting House in 1808. The city opened schools for African Americans in the 1820s, and the state legislature passed an anti-segregation bill in 1855.

The school closed at that time and was used to store furniture; it was then used as a headquarters for black Civil War veterans. The school was fully renovated in 2000 and is now part of the Museum of Afro American History. Located at 46 Joy Street.

Abiel Smith School

<-- PreviousBoston Field Trip: HomeNext -->

If you need to teach it, we have it covered.

Start your free trial to gain instant access to thousands of expertly curated worksheets, activities, and lessons created by educational publishers and teachers.

Start Your Free Trial

Follow us on:

Follow TeacherVision on Facebook
Follow TeacherVision on Google Plus


Happy Halloween! Students love this fall holiday; take advantage of it! You'll find everything from costume patterns and printable Halloween masks to counting activities and vocabulary lessons.

2016 Presidential Elections
Election season is here! Help your students understand the process of our national elections (held on Tuesday, November 8), from the President down to local representatives, with our election activities. Read short biographies of presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R), explore mock election ideas, create presidential trading cards, learn election vocabulary, play election bingo and more!

October Calendar of Events
October is full of events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum! Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event, including: Black Tuesday (10/29/1929) and Halloween (10/31). Plus, celebrate Bullying Prevention Month, Computer Learning Month, Diversity Awareness Month, Family History Month, Fire Prevention Month, International Dinosaur Month, Learning Disabilities Month, and School Safety Month all October long!