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Museum of African American History

Things to do Beacon Hill Free
The museum's premises comprise the African Meeting House, the oldest black church in the country, and the Abiel Smith School, the nation's first public school for African-American children. The latter was named after a 19th-century white businessman who bequeathed $2,000 to the city for the education of black children. A few years after the school was built in 1834, controversy over segregated schooling began in earnest. In 1855, following much legal wrangling, a bill outlawing segregated schooling was finally passed. Children were allowed to attend the school closest to their homes, regardless of race, and the Abiel Smith School was closed down. After extensive restoration, it opened to the public in 2000, and now houses changing exhibitions. Built by African-American artisans in 1806, the African Meeting House played an important role in the anti-slavery movement in the 19th century. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society here in 1832 - earning it the moniker 'the black Faneuil Hall'. At the end of the century, when Boston's black population shifted further south, the building became a Jewish synagogue. Coinciding with its bicentenary, it embarked on the final phase of a 20-year restoration project in 2006, to return the interior to its mid 19th-century appearance. Both buildings are stops on the Black Heritage Trail.


Venue name: Museum of African American History
Address: 46 Joy Street
at Smith Court

Opening hours: Open June-Aug 10am-4pm Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat; 10am-8pm Thur. Sept-May 10am-4pm Mon-Sat.
Transport: Charles/MGH T or Park St T .
Price: Admission free.
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