George Frisbie Hoar House/Admadjaja House (Concord Academy)

158 Main Street, Concord

George Frisbie Hoar (1826-1904) was the son of a politically prominent family who would go on to be one of the most well-known opponents of U.S. imperialism of his time. Born and raised in Concord, he studied, as a youth, under Henry David Thoreau, who briefly ran his own school in the town, and later visited with him at Walden Pond. After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Hoar moved to Worcester where he began practicing law. Within a few years, Hoar won election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and, five years later, to the Massachusetts Senate. From 1869 to 1877, he served as member of the U.S. Congress. Thereafter, until his death, he was a member of the U.S. Senate.

George Frisbie Hoar, circa 1870s. Senator Hoar was one of the more prominent members of the Anti-Imperialist League (see the entry on Faneuil Hall in “A People’s Guide to Greater Boston”). Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

While his fellow Republican (junior) senator from Massachusetts, Henry Cabot Lodge, vociferously championed the annexation of Hawaii and U.S. military intervention in Cuba, Hoar was very suspicious of these projects, expressing quiet criticism. But with the outbreak of the U.S. war with Spain in 1898, he became a vocal opponent of U.S. imperialism. He was particularly concerned about the Philippines, the colonization of which he saw as an affront to U.S. ideals and a threat to U.S. institutions. In 1902, Hoar publicly denounced those in Washington complicit with the brutal U.S. war and the atrocities—ranging from widespread torture of Filipino captives and sexual assault to extrajudicial executions of prisoners and civilians—associated with Washington’s effort to pacify the territory. “You have devastated provinces,” he proclaimed. “You have slain uncounted thousands of peoples you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentration camps.”

In the Senate, Hoar supported many progressive causes—including public education for African Americans recently freed from slavery, the right of women to vote, and the right of workers to form labor unions. He also opposed Chinese Exclusion, calling Chinese “absolutely fit” for U.S. citizenship. In the case of Portuguese and Italian immigrants, however, he succumbed to the racism of the time, calling them “absolutely unfit.” And while he never wavered in his position on the right of Filipinos to independence, he remained steadfastly loyal to the Republican Party, refusing to denounce Henry Cabot Lodge and President William McKinley, the main champions of the Philippines’ annexation.

Hoar grew up in the house, purchased by his father in 1819, on 158 Main Street. In 1946, Concord Academy, an elite boarding school, purchased the building. It is now a residential house, called Admadjaja House, for students.

George Frisbie Hoar—like fellow Concordians Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau—is buried in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Admadjaja House, 2013. Photo by Daderot. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Getting there:

Commuter rail from North Station (Framingham line) to Concord Station. Walk north (take a left) on Thoreau Street, and then a right onto Belknap Street. Follow Belknap until Main Street. Take a right. Concord Academy and Admadjaja House is on the left side of the street. About 0.3 mils (a 5-minute walk).

To learn more:

Stephen Puleo, The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day, Boston: Beacon Press, 2008.

Richard E. Welch, Jr., “Opponents and Colleagues: George Frisbie Hoar and Henry Cabot Lodge, 1898-1904, The New England Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2, 1966: 182-209.

Richard E. Welch, Jr., “American Atrocities in the Philippines: The Indictment and the Response,” Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, 1974: 233-253.

Richard Plumer House

79 Federal Street, Newburyport

Richard Plumer (1812-1881) was the postmaster of Newburyport, as well as the owner and operator of a dry goods store at 46 State Street, a few buildings down from the post office. In 1830, he bought a home on Federal Street, one that would serve as a station on the Underground Railroad.  Plumer and his family members housed and clandestinely transported an untold number of individuals fleeing slavery to other stations or agents of the “railroad” as they headed to Canada. In 1841, Plumer hosted Frederick Douglass at his home.

Built around 1700, Richard Plumer’s house, currently a private residence, still stands. A plaque on the front of the building commemorates Plumer’s abolitionist activism.

Richard Plumer House, 79 Federal Street, Newburyport.

Getting there:

Commuter Rail from North Station to Newburyport. The house is located between High Street and Horton Street.

To learn more:

William Hallett, Newburyport and the Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2012.

W. E. B. Du Bois Residence

20 Flagg Street, Cambridge

W. E. B. DuBois, circa 1907. Public domain, Credit: NPS.gov

One of the great civil and human rights advocates of the 20th century and a major public intellectual, W. E. B. Du Bois rented a room at this house from 1890 to 1893 while a graduate student at Harvard University. In 1895, he became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard.

Du Bois, a strong opponent of accommodationist approaches to race relations and an unwavering advocate of full civil rights for African Americans, was politically allied with Boston’s William Monroe Trotter. (There is an entry on William Monroe Trotter’s home in Dorchester in A People’s Guide to Greater Boston.) Together, they helped to found, in 1905, the Niagara Movement, a forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1910, Du Bois became the editor of the NAACP’s monthly magazine, The Crisis.

One of the founders of modern sociology, Du Bois was the author of Black Reconstruction in America (1935). His most famous work, among his many books, is The Souls of Black Folk. First published in 1903, it is a collection of essays on race, labor, and culture. In it, he famously decried “the problem of the color line” as “the problem of the Twentieth Century.”

Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1868, Du Bois was active in the Pan-Africanist movement. In 1961, he joined the U.S. Communist Party, and then moved to Accra, Ghana, where he died in 1963.

The house at 20 Flagg Street, part of the Cambridge African American Heritage Trail, has a historical marker about Du Bois in front of it. In the 1980s, Harvard sold the building. It is now a private home.

20 Flagg Street, 2017. Photo by Eleni Macrakis.

Getting There:

Red Line to Harvard Square Station. About a 0.6 mile (12-minute) walk via Mt. Auburn Street.

Rockledge (Home of William Lloyd Garrison)

125 Highland Street, Roxbury

William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879. Source: Library of Congress (public domain).

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).

Rockledge, circa 1898. Source: Boston Public Library, Arts Department via Digital Commonwealth.

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.

Getting there:

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.

Related site:

William Lloyd Garrison birthplace and family home, 3-5 School Street, Newburyport. (We explore this site in A People’s Guide to Greater Boston.)

Nearby:

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.

Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation

154 Moody Street, Waltham

Boston Manufacturing Company in Waltham, 1978. Public domain.

The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation is housed in part what was of one of the first factories in the United States. It is also the site of the world’s first integrated factory—one in which all aspects of the manufacturing process are housed within a single entity. As such, many consider it the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. It was there, in 1813, that Francis Cabot Lowell, a wealthy Bostonian, along with a group of investors that historians have called the Boston Associates (but who were never formally organized as such), established the Boston Manufacturing Company.

Producing cotton textiles, the factory relied on a workforce of approximately 300 laborers—largely young, unmarried women in its initial years—and on the energy provided by a small waterfall along the Charles River. The factory housed the country’s first power loom, the design of which Lowell had effectively stolen (and then adapted with the help of Paul Moody, a mechanic/engineer) from the mills of Manchester, England. In a stunning act of industrial espionage, he visited English factories and recorded to memory strongly guarded secrets and carried them back to the United States just before the War of 1812 broke out.

While wealth accumulation was certainly central to the goals of Lowell and his fellow investors, they had a larger social mission as well, one that grew out of their concern that the United States avoid the excesses of the English industrial experience in terms of filthy cities, urban poverty, and dire working conditions, and one modeled on a different approach to industrial development practiced in Scotland. Boston Manufacturing paid its employees in cash (rather than script, which was very common at the time) and, at least initially, at levels higher than prevailing wages for female workers (which were considerably less than those received by male workers). It also owned boarding houses in which its female workers stayed; the houses were staffed by a matron. As a way of instilling confidence in families who sent their daughters to work in Waltham, the company ensured the good moral standing of the women, enforcing standards of behavior and dress and requiring weekly attendance at church. While working conditions were not easy—12-hour days, six days a week in a room with lint-filled air—they were considerably better than those at factories elsewhere.

Over time, the logic of industrial capitalism undermined the pretense of any high-minded mission on the part of the Boston Manufacturing Company. In the face of rising competition in the textile industry, working conditions deteriorated at the Waltham factory as manifested by increased work assignments and lower wages. By the mid-1800s, the workforce was also characterized by a growing number of Irish (largely immigrant) laborers—many of them children.

What came to be known as the Waltham-Lowell system speaks to its geographic origins in so-called “Watch City” (as it grew rapidly, Waltham later became one of the world’s leading producers of watches) and the fact that it spread to what came to be known as Lowell, Massachusetts.

Today, Waltham, which lies about 12 miles west of Downtown Boston, is a city of approximately 60,000. The Boston Manufacturing Company closed in 1930. The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, which opened in 1988, tells the story of the company and of other aspects of Waltham’s industrial history.

Getting there:

Commuter rail from North Station (Framingham line), or MBTA bus from Downtown Boston, to Waltham Station. The museum is just below (going downhill) the station, on the Charles River, in the direction opposite that of the Waltham Common. Less than a five-minute walk.

Nearby points of interest:

Waltham Common (across from the train station), the site of the annual Watch City Steampunk Festival (on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend), the largest such festival in New England.

Brandeis University, 415 South Street.

To learn more:

Robert F. Dalzell, Jr. Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993.

Howard M. Gitelman. “The Waltham System and the Coming of the Irish,” Labor History, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1967: 227-253.

Stone-Davis Hall, Wellesley College

106 Central Street, Wellesley

Emily Greene Balch in Hungary, circa 1900.

Wellesley College is a liberal arts college for women in the affluent town of Wellesley, about 19 miles west of downtown Boston. An elite institution, it has about 2,400 students and an endowment of almost $2 billion. Its alumnae association has been characterized as the world’s most powerful women’s network.  Two out of the three women who have served as U.S. secretary of state (Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton), for example, are graduates. Less well known is a Wellesley professor who worked to challenge war and militarism, at a high cost to her academic career, and who eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize: Emily Greene Balch.

Balch helped to found Denison House (part of the settlement house movement, and a site in A People’s Guide to Greater Boston) in Boston’s Chinatown in 1892, serving as its first headworker. After graduate studies, she became a professor at Wellesley and the chair of its Department of Economics and Sociology, teaching courses (from 1869 to 1918) on a variety of topics including the history of socialism, labor issues, immigration, and the economic role of women.

Balch was a strong supporter of worker’s rights and helped to found the Women’s Trade Union League. She self-identified as a socialist, while rejecting the notion of class struggle. An internationalist, feminist, Christian (first Unitarian and later Quaker), and pacifist, Balch attended the International Congress of Women at The Hague in 1915, as a U.S. delegate and helped found the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (which still exists today). Balch worked to end World War I through international mediation, while publicly opposing U.S. entry into the conflict and the military draft and supporting the rights of conscientious objectors and non-citizens. Her activism and the positions she took ultimately led Wellesley’s board of trustees to refuse to reappoint Balch, at 52, when her contract expired in 1918—despite her having the support of departmental colleagues and the College’s president.

After her firing from Wellesley, Balch continued her activism, particularly with the WILPF, and worked to oppose war as well as to racism and imperialism—the U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915-1934) a key concern. In 1946, Balch received the Nobel Peace Prize “for her lifelong work for disarmament and peace.”

From 1898 to 1900, Emily Greene Balch lived on the Wellesley College campus at Stone Hall, a building destroyed by fire in 1927. On the same site now stands Stone-Davis Hall. Balch died in Cambridge in 1961, at the age of 94. She is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery, two miles away from where she was raised (130 Prince Street) in Jamaica Plain.

Stone Hall, Wellesley College, date unknown. Source: Wellesley College Archives Image Gallery,

Getting there:

Commuter rail (Worcester Line) from South Station to Wellesley Square. 1.0 mile (20-minute) walk.

To learn more:

Robert W. Dimand, “Emily Greene Balch, Political Economist,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 70, No. 2, 2011: 464-479.

Melinda Plastas, “A Different Burden: Race and the Social Thought of Emily Greene Balch,” Peace and Change, Vol. 33, No. 4, October 2008: 469-508.

Judy D. Whipps, “The Feminist Pacifism of Emily Greene Balch, Nobel Peace Laureate,” NWSA Journal, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2006: 122-132.

Fort Independence (Castle Island)

Castle Island, South Boston

Fort Independence, Castle Island, South Boston, 1884. Source: Boston Public Library, Digital Commonwealth, Creative Commons.

A huge explosion rocked South Boston in the early afternoon of December 6, 1898, shaking homes and breaking windows in the City Point area. In April of that year, the federal government had re-taken control of Castle Island (much of which is occupied by Fort Independence) from the Boston Park Department due to the Spanish-American War. This involved the U.S. military’s using of the island as a mine depot.

The imperial war had a geographically extensive and long-term impact—it was through the war that the United States colonized the Philippines, for example, Puerto Rico became a U.S. semi-colony, and Guantánamo a U.S. military base. However, the war as a whole was fairly brief: with the important exception of hostilities in the Philippines, which endured for over a decade, it only lasted three and a half months. So soon after deploying 256 mines to Castle Island, the Army began to decommission them. In the process of doing so, one of the mines exploded, killing four men.

The history of Castle Island and the series of forts (eight in number, the first one built in 1634) that have dominated it over time is a complicated one. One of the oldest fortified sites in what was Britain’s empire in North America, the 22-acre island is today a venue for recreation and relaxation. For much of its history, however, it played a significant role in militarily maintaining relationships of domination and subordination at home and abroad—from its use by British forces to control a rebellious population in colonial-era Boston to the deployment of troops from Fort Independence to enforce the return of at least one fugitive slave and the putting down of anti-draft riots during the Civil War in the North End. Perhaps the most famous solider ever stationed at Fort Independence was an 18-year-old named Edgar Allan Poe; in 1827, he spent five months on Castle Island.

Since 1892, Castle Island has been linked to South Boston proper—first by a wooden bridge and today a landfill. During the summer months, free tours of the fort take place on a regular basis during the day.


Fort Independence, on Castle Island, in the harbor approaches to Boston. Copyright (c) 2006 Chris Wood, Creative Commons.

Getting there:

Red Line to Andrew Station or Broadway Station. MBTA buses to Marine Park in the City Point neighborhood are available. Walk across Marine Park and around the lagoon to the fort.

To learn more:

Daniel Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019.

William J. Reid, Castle Island and Fort Independence, Boston: Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston, 1995.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

158 Longwood Avenue, The Fenway

For five days in March 1981, seventy-three physicians from the United States, Western Europe, and the Soviet Union met in Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., to launch International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). In the preceding year, a trio of physicians affiliated with Harvard Medical School had launched conversations with medical counterparts in the Soviet Union. Despite their professional credentials, they were acutely away of their relative marginality in the context of a growing U.S. military buildup, Cold War tensions, and the election to the U.S. presidency of Ronald Reagan, which promised even steeper military spending. In this context, Bernard Lown, a cardiologist, and his colleagues carefully crafted a message based on their competency as physicians: “we must stick unswervingly to the medical facts about nuclear war,” they stated.

Lown and his colleagues first met in Geneva with a group of Soviet medical practitioners in December 1980. After a difficult start, their deliberations concluded with a call for the 1981 meeting. Although intimidated by the prospects of organizing an international gathering in just three months, the doctors set up shop in the Longwood area of the Fenway, in a small, 2nd floor office above Sparr’s Drug, a provider of medical supplies and equipment and an old-style drugstore with soda fountains. There they turned to a volunteer corps of a dozen Harvard Medical School students and raised over $250,000 to pull off the Virginia conference. 

Sparr’s drug store, circa 1960-1969. Source: Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections.

The gathering ended with appeals to fellow physicians, leaders of the United Nations, and the Soviet and U.S. leaderships, each premised in the “abiding faith in the concept that what humanity creates, humanity can control.” Arguing against the Reagan Administration’s perspective, they stated the nuclear war was unwinnable and catastrophic, and further, that international cooperation was needed to reduce nuclear stockpiles. IPPNW’s influence continued to grow alongside that era’s burgeoning anti-nuclear movement. The organization won international recognition, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

IPPNW remains active. Its offices are now located at 339 Pleasant Street in Malden. Sparr’s Drug closed down in 2002. The Harvard School of Public Health currently owns the building.

Building that housed IPPNW and Sparr’s, Longwood and Huntington Avenues. Photo by Eleni Macrakis, 2018.

Getting there:

Green Line “E” to Longwood Station.

To learn more:

Bernard Lown, Prescription for Survival: A Doctor’s Journey to End Nuclear Madness. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2008.

Parker Brothers Headquarters

190 Bridge Street, Salem

Parker Brothers is a well-known game company established in Salem in 1883, by siblings George, Charles, and Edward Parker. As the company grew, it purchased the property at 190 Bridge Street where it eventually built a 35,000-square-foot facility that housed its factory and offices.

Parker Brothers’ most famous game was, and remains, Monopoly. While many credit Charles Brace Darrow with the game’s invention (Parker Brothers purchased the rights to it from him in 1935), Elizabeth Magie (later Magie Phillips) first devised it. Magie’s version, which she called “The Landlord’s Game,” grew out of her progressive politics. Indeed, she designed the game as a protest against the monopolistic practices of the likes of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. A student of the writings of the 19th century political-economist Henry George, who argued that natural resources—including land—should belong equally to all, Magie patented the game in 1903, hoping that it would teach people the importance of sharing wealth. Unfortunately for Magie, Darrow’s capitalistic adaptation of the game captured the attention of many more people and it was he who made millions from the game’s purchase by Parker Brothers.

Hasbro bought Parker Brothers in 1991 and closed down the factory soon thereafter, tearing it down in 1994. It is now the site of an apartment complex.

Former site of Parker Brothers Headquarters, as seem from Salem Commuter Rail Station, July 2015.

Getting there:

MBTA Commuter Rail (from North Station) to Salem. MBTA bus from Orient Heights Station on the Blue Line.

To learn more:

Mary Pilon, “Monopoly’s Inventor: The Progressive Who Didn’t Pass ‘Go’,” The New York Times, February 13, 2015.

New England Historical Society, “The Parker Brothers of Salem, Mass.,” undated, circa 2013.

The Country Club

191 Clyde Street, Brookline

The County Club, circa 1910-1915. Library of Congress.

Boston Brahmins were eager to have a private club for racing horses and associated activities, yet free of the gambling which took place at public racetracks and which they found repulsive. So, in 1882, they founded The Country Club on 100 acres of land. Brookline, with its then-open countryside and proximity (in terms of travel by horse coach) to their homes in Boston, was an ideal location.

Horse-related activities dominated The Country Club for only a brief period. By the early 1900s, it was a multipurpose establishment dedicated to a variety of sporting endeavors, but still ones seen as “rural”—such as lawn tennis. Indeed, by this time what had been the racetrack was part of the golf course.

The Country Club, the first such establishment in the United States, both reflected and helped to define what it meant to be a member of Boston’s upper-class establishment. And, by inspiring the founding of other country clubs across the United States, it helped to produce the suburban lifestyle of the affluent and the associated landscape on a national scale. Long a bastion of WASP male privilege, The Country Club reportedly did not admit Jews until the 1970s, women (as full members) until 1989, and its first African American member until the following year.

Today, The Country Club sits on 236 acres of land. The privatized property is Brookline’s largest “green” space. Its membership of approximately 1300 individuals is secret, but it includes some of the Boston area’s most powerful individuals. Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots football team (who lives in an adjacent estate), is reportedly a member. And, until moving to Florida in 2020, so, too, were team quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Giselle Bundchen, his spouse.

Getting there:  

A MBTA bus, which runs between Forest Hill Station (Orange Line) and Reservoir Station (Green Line, D Branch), stops near the club’s entrance.

To learn more:

Richard J. Moss, Golf and the American Country Club, Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Michael Rawson, Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.