Quincy Grammar School

Three story building with broad brick pilasters, located at on a street
Quincy Grammar School

Photograph by Neil Larson, courtesy of Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
88-90 Tyler Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Architecture, Education, Asian American, Social History
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places (ref# 100001458)

The Quincy Grammar School was completed in 1848 and became the first graded school in Boston with twelve "single-head" classrooms, setting a model for the city's educational reform movement of the 19th century. By the late 19th century, the school was educating a diverse group of immigrant children, including Chinese, a trend that continued into the 20th century. With the arrival from China of large numbers of women and children soon after WWII, Chinatown's population increased enormously, and the Quincy School became the public school serving Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American children.  

The history of the school is closely associated with the story of immigrants in Boston, with the majority of students born outside of the United States from its opening well into the 20th century. The first Chinese students arrived in the 1890s. The school's population remained a mix of nationalities, but changed significantly in the 1940s, when the growing number of Chinese families in Chinatown spread south across Kneeland Street and their children enrolled in the Quincy School. By the time it closed in 1976, more than 90% of the school's population was Chinese American. The Quincy School played a pivotal role in the education of Boston's largest Chinese enclave, as well as teaching English as a second language and other acculturation skills during a period when large numbers of new Chinese families were arriving in Chinatown. And even though the old school closed in 1976, with students transferring to the new Josiah Quincy Elementary School only a few blocks away, it found renewed life in 1983 when the city conveyed it to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England, a vitally important community organization, composed of numerous smaller charitable and cultural Chinese groups, that operates a multifaceted program in the building. This significant era of preserving and presenting Chinese culture for the benefit of Boston's Chinese-American community has continued strongly into the present. 

A project through the Underrepresented Community Grant Program, which works to diversify nominations submitted to the National Register of Historic Places, funded the effort to recognize the significance of this property related to Chinese-American history in Boston.

Last updated: November 2, 2020