7. Phillips School

Street Address: 65 Anderson Street

Nearest Corner: Anderson & Pickney

Digital & Degree Coordinates: 442.359051,-71.067642; N42 21.543 W71 04.059

View Phillips School. The Phillips School  was built between 1823 and 1825. The architecture of this building is typical of 19th century Boston schools. The building was first used by the English High School, but it was converted to a grammar school in 1844. The grammar school was named after the first mayor of Boston, John Phillips, who was the father of famed abolitionist Wendell Phillips.

In contrast to the Abiel Smith School which was the public school for African American children from 1835 to 1855, the Phillips School was considered one of the best schools in the city. Black Bostonians fought tirelessly for equal school rights throughout the 19th century.  In 1847 Benjamin Roberts attempted to have his daughter Sarah admitted to the school closest to their home, but his request was denied by the Primary School Committee, the District Committee, and the General School Committee. Frustrated, Roberts brought Sarah to the door of the Phillips School, which now educated both males and females, but entrance was denied by Principal Andrew Cotton. Ironically, when Boston schools were finally integrated in 1855, by an act of the Massachusetts legislature, the Phillips School became one of the first integrated schools in Boston.

This school building was open only to white children until 1855. When segregated schools were abolished by legislative act, the Phillips School became one of Boston's first schools with an interracial student body.

In the early 1870s, Elizabeth Smith, daughter of abolitionist John J. Smith, started teaching at the Phillips School and was probably the first African American to teach in an integrated Boston public school.