July 20, 2020 Boston Parks and Recreation Department Awarded $40,000 Grant from Henderson Foundation for Roxbury’s Eliot Burying Ground
HBI congratulates the Boston Parks and Recreation Department on securing a generous $40,000 grant for conservation of grave markers in Eliot Burying Ground from the Henderson Foundation, a foundation devoted to the enhancement of the physical appearance of the City of Boston, and that contributes to preserving local culture and history.
As a neighbor of Roxbury’s oldest burying ground, HBI appreciates the rich artwork and history presented by the slate headstones in the Eliot Burying Ground. Together with Kelly Thomas, Director of the Historic Burying Ground Initiative, Gabrielle Chapman, HBI’s Office Manager, has been working to inventory and plan for the conservation of the stones. They are currently evaluating each stone to determine its condition, and categorizing them based on the type of repair needed.
The 1630 burial ground is located on the corner of Eustis Street and Washington Street, which was the beginning of what was known historically as Roxbury Neck, an isthmus that connected the city of Boston to the mainland town of Roxbury. Its position was so strategic that during the siege of Boston in 1775, the burying ground was used as a site for fortifications. The colonists were able to control access to Dorchester and the entrance to the town of Roxbury.
The Minister’s or Parish Tomb contains the site’s namesake, John Eliot, and five later ministers of the First Church of Roxbury. Also buried with in the graveyard is Benjamin Thompson, schoolmaster and physician , and famous clock maker Aaron Willard. At the Eustis Street entrance, The Dudley tomb is covered with a brownstone table top that once had an oval indentation with a pewter name plate. Though the indentation remains, the pewter was cut out by American soldiers of the Roxbury camp during the siege of Boston and made into bullets.
The Boston Parks Department will be matching the Henderson grant to invest a total of $80,000 in this project. We are grateful to the Henderson Foundation for recognizing the importance of this historic resource in Nubian Square. Stay tuned for more updates about the project progress.