John J. Smith House

One of Boston's African American National Historic Site, and property of John J. Smith, an African American abolitionist from 1878 to 1893.

Nearby Attractions

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Beacon HIll
Steep cobblestone streets lined with red-brick Federal-style homes and picturesque old lanterns are only some of Beacon Hill's treasures.
Boston Public Garden
Located next to Boston Common, the Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in the country.
Make Way for Ducklings statues
Bronze statues installed in Boston's Public Garden in 1987, representing the duck family in Robert McCloskey's children's classic 'Make Way for Ducklings'.
Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment
This bronze relief statue constructed in 1897 was the first public monument to pay homage to African Americans soldiers.
Charles Street Meeting House
The Charles Street Meeting House served as a space for social activism throughout its history.
Museum of African American History
Founded in 1963, the museum tells the stories of free African Americans and their organization from the 17th century through the 19th century.

Related Tours

Beacon Hill Black Heritage Trail Private Walking Tour
Explore the 2-mile walking Black Heritage Trail on Beacon Hill, where your private guide will take you through some of the histories of the community who lived on the north slope. On your private tour, you will:

  • Enjoy the personalised attention of your private local tour guide. 
  • Embark on a tour of the Black Heritage trail, with 15 historic sites relating to life within a free Black community prior to the Civil War –including schools, homes, and meeting houses. 
  • Hear the story of Crispus Attucks, the first man killed in the Boston Massacre of 1770, and considered by many to be the first violent death of the Revolution.
  • Learn why Massachusetts was the only state in the Union that did not have slaves in 1790. 
  • Learn Boston’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and why southern African Americans often set their sights on Boston. 
  • Explore the north slope of Beacon Hill, home to Boston’s 19th century African American community, and one of the first integrated schools in 1855. 
  • Pay respects to the 54th Regiment– the first Black Northern regiment in the Civil War -- at its memorial built in 1897.
  • Your tour ends in front of the African Meeting House, the oldest surviving Black church in the United States, which we recommend you purchase tickets for and tour after departing from your guide. 
Your private walking tour uncovers one of the many layers of Boston’s rich history, taking you through more than a century’s worth of the African American community’s history in the city. However, the story of African-Americans in Boston centres around a larger story in America – the fight for liberty, freedom from tyranny, freedom from enslavement, independence, and equal protection under the law. As the first state to not have any enslaved people, Massachusetts became a homing beacon for many seeking a life of equality and a community – the north slope of Boston’s Beacon Hill represented that opportunity for many. 

On your walking tour, you will have the chance to see many historic names and events come alive – from the bookshop where Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published to places where famed abolitionist Frederick Douglas spoke regularly. Your tour of the Black Heritage Trail will span from the site of the Boston Massacre in 1770 through to a restaurant where Malcolm X was a busboy in the 1940s. 

Your tour will end at the Museum of African American History and the African Meeting House, where your guide will readily assist you in securing tickets to further explore Boston’s Black history at your leisure. 


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