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Myrtle Baptist Church Neighborhood

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1845–1929. Curve St., Allen Pl., and Simms Ct.

Built along the Boston & Albany Railroad tracks just after the Civil War and known as the Village, this is one of the oldest surviving African American enclaves in the Boston area. Supported by abolitionists, the church, and abundant jobs (in the railroad yards, coal and lumber companies north of the tracks, and later at General Motors in Framingham), the Village was also maintained by discrimination and redlining that prevented African Americans from buying houses elsewhere in Newton. Although Massachusetts Turnpike construction in 1963 obliterated half the neighborhood, the Village retains its ethnic associations.

The district includes one surviving business, a funeral home at 1479 Washington Street (at Simms Court). T. H. Ellice built the house at 3 Prospect in 1898 for African immigrant Napoleon Holmes and his wife, Josephine. The first Myrtle Baptist Church (21 Curve Street), built in 1874, burned. Its 1898 replacement contains an African American–themed stained glass window, Philip Baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch, by Spence and Bell of Boston. Martin Luther King Jr., while a student at Boston University in the 1950s, preached at the church and socialized in the neighborhood. Although aluminum siding shrouds their respective Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, and Gothic Revival forms, these three buildings testify to a resilient community.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Myrtle Baptist Church Neighborhood", [Newton, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 490-490.

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