Boston African American National Historic Site

The Shaw Memorial


Quick Facts

Boston, Massachusetts
National Historic Site

Boston African American National Historic Site works with the Museum of African American History to preserve and interpret the inspiring history of the free black community in antebellum Boston. This community, living on Beacon Hill, along with its white allies, led the nation in the struggle to abolish slavery. The primary way to experience this site is by taking a tour of the Black Heritage Trail. Sites along the trail include the homes, schools, churches, and gathering places of this remarkable community. For example, the African Meeting Houses, which opened in 1806, served as the spiritual, cultural, and political center of this community. The Lewis and Harriet Hayden House played on integral role in Boston’s Underground Railroad. Another important site is the Abiel Smith School, the first schoolhouse in the nation built for the sole purpose of educating black students, which now serves as gallery space for the Museum of African American History. Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s masterpiece, the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, where the trail begins, honors the bravery and sacrifice of the 54th Regiment, the first northern black regiment to serve in the Civil War.

Ranger-guided tours are available year-round. Please call ahead for reservations. Sites along the trial are privately owned and not open to the public, except the Abiel Smith School and the African Meeting House which are operated by the Museum of African American History and charge an admission fee. 

Last updated: January 12, 2018