Rockledge-William Lloyd Garrison House
17 Highland Park Street
This Greek revival house, Rockledge, named because it is surrounded by Roxbury Puddingstone, was built in the 1840’s during Roxbury’s early period of suburban growth.
It was the residence of William Lloyd Garrison.
The first owner of the house was druggist Joseph W. Hunnewell who maintained an office at 8 Commercial Wharf. He sold the house to William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), the most famous owner of the house. It is the only home of Garrison still standing Garrison was a leader of the anti slavery movement in Boston, and editor of the abolition journal The Liberator, published from 1831-1865. In 1864, after emancipation was achieved Garrison and his wife retired to his mansion, moving from Dix Street in the theater district. He lived there until his death in 1879. His funeral was held at the First Church in Roxbury and he is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery.
Garrison’s family owned the house until 1899 when they sold it to the Rockledge Improvement Association, a group of well to do blacks who bought it as a home for poor blacks.
In 1904 St. Monica’s Home for Sick and Colored Women and Children, operated by the Society of St. Margaret purchased Garrison’s home from the Rockledge Improvement Association. In 1888 the Sisters of St. Margaret, located on Beacon Hill, purchased a small six room tenement at 79 Phillips Street and opened St. Monica’s Home for Sick Colored Women and Children. In 1891 a larger house at 45 Joy Street was purchased and 47 Joy Street was added a few years later. In 1904 St. Monica’s moved to Roxbury. An addition was completed in 1963 to accommodate more nursing home residents. The nursing home closed in 1989, due to rising costs and staff shortages.
In 1992, the Society of St. Margaret’s convent, which was located on Louisburg Square, moved to Roxbury, into Garrison’s home. The Beacon Hill convent was sold to John Kerry and Theresa Heinz.
Rockledge is an Italianate style house built on a huge outcropping of Roxbury puddingstone. Renovations to the nursing home so that it could be used as a convent were made by Kirk Sykes in 1990-1992. Landscaped terraced gardens border Highland Ave.
Rockledge is now home to St Margaret’s Convent and the DeBlois Conference Center, operated by the Society of St. Margaret (Episcopal). The DeBlois Conference Center can accommodate up to 60 people for meetings and conferences and overnight accommodations are available for 15-20 people.
“History of the First Church in Roxbury and the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry,”
in First Church in Roxbury Bicentennial, Dedication of the Education and Justice Center, October 30, 2004
The DeBlois Conference Center at St. Margaret’s Convent, pamphlet
Bay State Banner, Jan 6, 1989. St. Monica’s Ending Nursing Home Service.
Boston Advertiser, May 26. 1879. Obituary: William Lloyd Garrison.
Society of St. Margaret, Sister Catherine Louise Perkins
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