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Site Of The First Public School

Embedded in the sidewalk on School Street is a mosaic commemorating the site of the first public school in English America. The history of the Boston Public School System begins in the earliest days of the colony. The colonists quickly established the church, and then the school. In 1635, the first school opened, with Philemon Purmont appointed school-master. This was the famous Boston Latin School, which has flourished from that time to now. The first school building was located on School Street, just to the right of today's mosaic and where the Benjamin Franklin Statue now stands. The second school building was on the opposite side of the street, where part of the Parker House is now located.

Site Of The First Public School, Boston Latin
Latin School Site

It is believed that establishment of the first school was largely due to the work by John Cotton. Cotton was born in Derby [pronounced "Darby"] England, in 1585. He brought a knowledge of the Free Grammar School founded there by Queen Mary, in which Latin and Greek were taught. Two years after he arrived in colonial Boston in 1633, the new school was established. Also after his arrival, the Thursday Lecture Series [religious teachings] was started, and the weekly market day, both of which were customs of the older town in the mother country.

The Boston Latin School still flourishes today, with its high academic standards. The school can boast of a Hall of Fame of famous graduates, including: Samuel Adams, Henry Ward Beecher, Leonard Bernstein, Charles Bulfinch, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Everett, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Joseph Kennedy, Henry Knox, Cotton Mather, Wendell Phillips, Josiah Quincy, and Charles Sumner.

Contact Information & Address:

First Public School Site (Boston Latin) 
45 School Street, Boston, MA 
617.635.4505 
cityofboston.gov

 

Derby Free Grammar School In The Mother Country
Free Grammar School, Derby UK
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