125 Highland Street, Roxbury
In 1864, William Lloyd Garrison, the famed abolitionist and publisher of the Boston-based, anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, moved to the “Boston Highlands” of Roxbury with his family.
Rockledge was the name given to the half-acre estate. Due to the declining health and limited mobility of Garrison’s wife, Helen—an active abolitionist as well—it was thought best to move to what was then a relatively bucolic suburb. (The City of Boston did not annex Roxbury until 1868.) The Garrison family held onto the property until the deaths of both Helen (1876) and William (1879).
In an area today known as both Highland Park and Fort Hill, the original building, altered somewhat over the decades, and a later addition still stand. Beginning in 1904, Rockledge served as a nursing home, one run by the Episcopal Sisters of the Society of St. Margaret for low-income African-American women and children. Today, Rockledge, a National Historic Landmark, is part of Emmanuel College’s Notre Dame campus, where the 30 or so student residents dedicate themselves to community service and social justice.
Orange Line to Jackson Square Station. (0.6 mile, about a 14-minute walk.) The Emmanuel campus is accessed from Highland Avenue, a small street above and behind Rockledge.
William Lloyd Garrison birthplace and family home, 3-5 School Street, Newburyport. (We explore this site in A People’s Guide to Greater Boston.)
Highland Park, former home of a Revolutionary War fort and the site of Fort Hill Tower, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It affords a beautiful view of much of Boston.
To learn more:
Mayer, Henry. All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998.
National Park Service, National Registry of Historic Places nomination application, 1965.
Rocheleau, Matt. “Emmanuel College has lofty mission at quiet Roxbury site,” The Boston Globe, September 22, 2014.