News & Media

September 25, 2018

Henderson Foundation Grant Propels Restoration Work on Historic Garrison House

Work is underway on preserving an important piece of American civil rights history, thanks to a $33,000 grant from the George B. Henderson Foundation. The Henderson Foundation awards grants for projects focused on the enhancement of the appearance and preservation of outdoor elements in the city of Boston.

William Lloyd Garrison House

With this grant, the College has begun to explore the exterior restoration and revitalization of the William Lloyd Garrison House, a National Historic Landmark that was once home to the great abolitionist, and part of the College's Notre Dame Campus, which was established in 2012.

"We're grateful to the Henderson Foundation for their generosity in helping us continue to be good stewards of this valuable piece of Boston history," said Emmanuel College treasurer Sister Anne Mary Donovan, SNDdeN. "There is great value in preserving the home of an individual who fought for equality and justice. William Lloyd Garrison's legacy is alive and well on the Notre Dame Campus, where Emmanuel students are focused on urban engagement, social justice, spirituality and community service."  

To date, the College has contracted with the architectural firm of Platt Anderson Freeman Architects (PAFA), the construction management firm of Building Recon Services (BRS), and the structural engineering firm of MacLeod Consulting Inc., to study, identify and document the needed repairs to the exterior of the William Lloyd Garrison house. The firms have completed visual surveys of the roof, exterior wall and window conditions; digging to expose porch footings; and limited material removal to observe conditions of the roof and exterior wall claddings. While an exact scope of work is still being determined, the Garrison House—with emphasis on the front porch, exterior siding and windows—requires significant restoration work both for structural integrity and with an eye for preserving its historical heritage.  

About the William Lloyd Garrison House

William Lloyd Garrison is known as the leader of Boston's anti-slavery cause and was one of the most articulate and influential advocates of the abolitionist movement in the United States. In 1830, he founded the newspaper, The Liberator, which argued for the immediate emancipation of slaves, and it was published until the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865. A year before the amendment passed, Garrison moved into the home at 125 Highland Park in Roxbury with his family. He lived there until his death in 1879. Of all the places Garrison called home, only this house remains.

Perched along a ridge with views of downtown Boston, the two-story Italianate house, also known as Rockledge, sits on a 1.65-acre campus and faces Highland Park Street. The original residence and carriage house were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1965, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and became contributing properties to the Roxbury Highlands Historic District in 1989.

In 2012, Emmanuel College purchased the property from the Episcopal Sisters of the Society of St. Margaret, who had used the space as a convent for more than 100 years and built several additional structures on the grounds. The College's founding order, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, operated Notre Dame Academy on Washington Street from 1854 to 1965, just a few short blocks from the site of the Notre Dame Campus. Today, Notre Dame Street is situated adjacent to Washington Street, in recognition of the Sisters of Notre Dame's impact on the neighborhood.  

Today, as the Notre Dame Campus, the College utilizes the property for programs related to its mission—retreats, reflection and prayer, spiritual direction, social justice and service learning. Emmanuel students live on the property and serve with many nonprofit organizations in the neighborhood. Another program that operates on the grounds is the Urban Food Project, through which students, faculty and staff distribute freshly grown produce, as well as bring nutritional education and urban gardening strategies to low-income families in Roxbury and its adjacent neighborhoods.  

About the George B. Henderson Foundation
The George B. Henderson Foundation is solely devoted to the enhancement of the physical appearance of the city of Boston and immensely contributes to an effort of preserving the local cultural and historic values. Communities and organizations of all origins have been granted funds for restorations of historic properties, park preservations, art installations and other projects focused on enhancing the physical appearance of the city. The generosity of George B. Henderson has and still is improving the visual environment of numerous neighborhoods and enhancing the lives of their residents and visitors. Read more about the Foundation and their work.