Upon the Hill: The Beacon Hill Community

"I was born on Beacon Hill, and from early childhood, have loved to visit the Eastern wing of the State House, and read the four stones taken from the monument that once towered from its summit. One contains the following inscription: 'Americans, while from this eminence scenes of luxuriant fertility, of flourishing commerce, and the abodes of social happiness, meet your view, forget not those who by their exertions have secured to you these blessings.'"

- William Cooper Nell

Perhaps no neighborhood has defined the history of Boston more than Beacon Hill. Its residents, their homes, and their gathering spaces played a transformational role in Boston's unique social, cultural, and political history. Long associated with the Massachusetts State House and lavish mansions, Beacon Hill is also the neighborhood of the Black Heritage Trail®, the Museum of African American History, and Boston African American National Historic Site. Throughout its history, Beacon Hill has served as home for wealthy merchants and poor immigrants, industrialists and skilled artisans, social reformers and activists, political and religious leaders, writers, artists, and laborers.

Explore and find inspiration in the stories upon this hill.

Scan of historical document
A Revolutionary Life of Service

Follow Primus Hall's journey from Revolutionary War soldier to respected community leader on Black Beacon Hill.


Black Heritage Trail®


Beyond the Trail

  • sketch of three-story building from the front, with 3 large windows on the 2nd floor and 1 on top.
    Black Churches of Beacon Hill

    Learn about the history of African American churches in Beacon Hill.

  • Crusade Against Slavery Broadside
    A Crusade Against Slavery
    Boston's Crusade Against Slavery

    Student-curated exhibition about Boston's central role in the struggle against slavery.

  • Frontispiece of David Walker's Appeal with a Black man climbing up a rock and reaching to the sky.
    David Walker

    Abolitionist David Walker wrote his "Appeal" to urge Black resistance to slavery and racism.

  • Title page of Maria Stewart's published work
    Maria Stewart

    Abolitionist and women's rights advocate Maria W. Stewart called for Black people to resist slavery, oppression, and exploitation.

  • side view of a brick townhouse with a wooden ornamental door and two windows.
    George and Susan Hillard House

    While George Hillard remained a conservative political figure, Susan Hillard supported abolitionist causes and assisted freedom seekers.

  • Stone wall of a building next to a black doorway. Plaque on wall about Rebecca Lee Crumpler.
    Rebecca Lee Crumpler

    A pioneer in her field, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first Black woman to earn a medical degree in the United States.

  • side portrait of Charles Sumner with short wavy hair tinged with gray and a dark suit.
    Charles Sumner

    Charles Sumner served as a leading abolitionist in the U.S Senate, as well as a fierce advocate for civil rights.

  • black and white print of a Black woman with short white hair, small glasses and a high-collared top
    Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin

    An activist at heart, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin assumed many public roles throughout her life, from clubwoman to community leader.

  • older white man sitting in a chair. He wears a short white beard and round glasses and wears a suit.
    Prescott Townsend

    Early gay activist Prescott Townsend began his life in the 19th century and lived long enough to march in the first-ever Pride parade.

Last updated: March 2, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

15 State Street
Boston African American National Historical Site

Boston, MA 02109


617 429-6760

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