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Civil War Hub: an Assassin's Hotel to Memorials for Heroes

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This week marks the 150th anniversaries of the ends of the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the pivotal confrontations of the Civil War. While Boston was hundreds of miles from Gettysburg—and 1,500, give or take, from Vicksburg—the city and its environs did not escape history. From the inn where John Wilkes Booth stayed a week before he shot President Lincoln to the Beacon Hill alleyway that was a hiding place along the Underground Railroad to the Harbor island that served as a prison for top-level Confederates, here are 15 sites that remind us of the war a century and a half later.


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1. Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Memorial

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24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

Perhaps the most famous Civil War memorial in the Boston area, thanks to the movie "Glory," the bronze relief by Augustus Saint-Gaudens commemorates the first African-American regiment in the U.S. Army.

2. William Lloyd Garrison Gravesite

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95 Forest Hills Avenue
Boston, MA 02130
(617) 524-0128

The 275-acre Jamaica Plain cemetery is the final resting place of William Lloyd Garrison, one of the nation’s leading abolitionists, who was very nearly killed by a lynch mob in Boston before the war.

3. Soldiers and Sailors Monument

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Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Boston, MA

The elaborate memorial on Flagstaff Hill, erected in 1877, served as a model for Civil War monuments nationwide (not least because it commemorated ordinary soldiers as well as top officers).

4. Charles Sumner Statue

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Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner was beaten to within an inch of his life on the floor of the Senate in 1856 by South Carolina congressman Preston Blair. The beating was a flashpoint for the war, with Southerners praising Blair and Northerners supporting Sumner. (Sumner is buried in Cambridge’s Mount Auburn cemetery.)

5. Faneuil Hall

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The legendary hall hosted many pre-war and wartime rallies, perhaps none more famous than the one in 1830, when Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster declared, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!”

6. Charlestown Navy Yard

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1st Avenue
Charlestown, MA 02129

The yard was the disembarkation point for tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers headed southward.

7. Fort Warren

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Georges Island
Boston, MA

The fort on Georges Island was a military prison for high-level rebels, including Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens and Confederate Postmaster General John Henninger Reagan.

8. Harvard Memorial Hall

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Cambridge Street & Quincy Street, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

Completed in 1877, the neo-Gothic hall commemorates those 136 Harvard men who died fighting for the U.S., including two grandsons of Paul Revere.

9. Holmes Alleyway

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Smith Court
Boston, MA 02114

The alleyway was a hiding place along the Underground Railroad, and is near the Museum of African American History.

10. John P. Jewett and Company

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117 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02109

The original publisher of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the bestselling American novel of the early 19th century and a leading literary catalyst for the war, had its offices and bookstore here.

11. The Parker House Hotel

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60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108

John Wilkes Booth stayed at the inn (now the Omni Parker House) for two nights a week before shot President Lincoln. He used a shooting range two blocks away for target practice. Abolitionist John Brown, whose 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Va., would divide the nation further right before the war, also visited the Parker House.

12. Tremont Temple Baptist Church

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88 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108

The first integrated church in the U.S. also hosted the first Greater Boston reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The current building dates from the 1890s.

13. Joseph Hooker Statue

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24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

Unveiled in 1903, it commemorates Joseph Hooker, who commanded the Army of the Potomac in 1863, declaring, “May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none.”

14. Jamaica Plain Monument

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Centre Street & South Street
Boston, MA 02132

The 27-foot monument was unveiled in 1871 to commemorate the Civil War contributions of the then-Town of West Roxbury.

15. Lincoln - Soldier Monument

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Massachusetts Avenue & Garden Street, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

Completed in 1871, the monument on the Cambridge Common includes a statue at the top of a Civil War soldier and a bronze of President Lincoln below.

1. Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Memorial

24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108

Perhaps the most famous Civil War memorial in the Boston area, thanks to the movie "Glory," the bronze relief by Augustus Saint-Gaudens commemorates the first African-American regiment in the U.S. Army.

24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

2. William Lloyd Garrison Gravesite

95 Forest Hills Avenue, Boston, MA 02130

The 275-acre Jamaica Plain cemetery is the final resting place of William Lloyd Garrison, one of the nation’s leading abolitionists, who was very nearly killed by a lynch mob in Boston before the war.

95 Forest Hills Avenue
Boston, MA 02130

3. Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Boston, MA

The elaborate memorial on Flagstaff Hill, erected in 1877, served as a model for Civil War monuments nationwide (not least because it commemorated ordinary soldiers as well as top officers).

Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Boston, MA

4. Charles Sumner Statue

Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner was beaten to within an inch of his life on the floor of the Senate in 1856 by South Carolina congressman Preston Blair. The beating was a flashpoint for the war, with Southerners praising Blair and Northerners supporting Sumner. (Sumner is buried in Cambridge’s Mount Auburn cemetery.)

Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

5. Faneuil Hall

Boston, MA 02109

The legendary hall hosted many pre-war and wartime rallies, perhaps none more famous than the one in 1830, when Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster declared, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!”

6. Charlestown Navy Yard

1st Avenue, Charlestown, MA 02129

The yard was the disembarkation point for tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers headed southward.

1st Avenue
Charlestown, MA 02129

7. Fort Warren

Georges Island, Boston, MA

The fort on Georges Island was a military prison for high-level rebels, including Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens and Confederate Postmaster General John Henninger Reagan.

Georges Island
Boston, MA

8. Harvard Memorial Hall

Cambridge Street & Quincy Street, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138

Completed in 1877, the neo-Gothic hall commemorates those 136 Harvard men who died fighting for the U.S., including two grandsons of Paul Revere.

Cambridge Street & Quincy Street, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

9. Holmes Alleyway

Smith Court, Boston, MA 02114

The alleyway was a hiding place along the Underground Railroad, and is near the Museum of African American History.

Smith Court
Boston, MA 02114

10. John P. Jewett and Company

117 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02109

The original publisher of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the bestselling American novel of the early 19th century and a leading literary catalyst for the war, had its offices and bookstore here.

117 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02109

11. The Parker House Hotel

60 School Street, Boston, MA 02108

John Wilkes Booth stayed at the inn (now the Omni Parker House) for two nights a week before shot President Lincoln. He used a shooting range two blocks away for target practice. Abolitionist John Brown, whose 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Va., would divide the nation further right before the war, also visited the Parker House.

60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108

12. Tremont Temple Baptist Church

88 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108

The first integrated church in the U.S. also hosted the first Greater Boston reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The current building dates from the 1890s.

88 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108

13. Joseph Hooker Statue

24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108

Unveiled in 1903, it commemorates Joseph Hooker, who commanded the Army of the Potomac in 1863, declaring, “May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none.”

24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

14. Jamaica Plain Monument

Centre Street & South Street, Boston, MA 02132

The 27-foot monument was unveiled in 1871 to commemorate the Civil War contributions of the then-Town of West Roxbury.

Centre Street & South Street
Boston, MA 02132

15. Lincoln - Soldier Monument

Massachusetts Avenue & Garden Street, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138

Completed in 1871, the monument on the Cambridge Common includes a statue at the top of a Civil War soldier and a bronze of President Lincoln below.

Massachusetts Avenue & Garden Street, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138