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Joshua Bowen Smith House

The Joshua Bowen Smith House is significant for its association with one of Massachusetts’s most noteworthy abolitionists. Smith, a mulatto, is believed to have arrived in Boston from Philadelphia in 1836 and quickly became involved in abolitionist activities as well as an officer in all three of Boston’s vigilance committees. Employed as a waiter at the Mount Washington House, Smith encountered notable figures, such as Charles Sumner, Francis Gould Shaw, William Lloyd Garrison, and Theodore Parker. By the late 1840’s Smith established his own successful catering business in which he employed and harbored numerous fugitives and kept a watchful eye on slave agents in Boston. Smith became a confidant of Sumner and assisted him in raising funds to erect a monument to Massachusetts 54th Regiment, as well as advising him on drafting the Civil Rights Act of 1875. He was elected to the state legislature in 1873. Smith purchased the Cambridge house in 1852 and resided there with his wife, Emeline, until his death in 1879.

Visitor Information: Currently not open to public.

Location: 79 Norfolk St, Cambridge, 02139

National Park Unit: No

Ownership: Peter Frumkin

Location Type: Site

UGRR Operatives: Joshua Bowen Smith