On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at 7:30 p.m., architectural historian Alexander von Hoffman will give an illustrated talk on the “The Social Significance of Boston’s Colonial Country Houses.”
Dr. von Hoffman will explore how the members of Boston’s eighteenth-century elite expanded their social lives into the town’s suburban and rural environs. Fashionably designed country houses are among the most notable and long-lasting artifacts left by these leading Bostonians. The stately homes that still ring Boston include not only the Isaac Royall House in Medford but also the Vassal-Craigie-Longfellow House in Cambridge, the Loring-Greenough House in Jamaica Plain, and the Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury. The presentation will feature a close look at the architecture of these building and the social context in which they were built, offering lively and accessible insights into this important, but often overlooked, aspect of Boston’s history.
The event will be held at the Royall House & Slave Quarters at 15 George Street, Medford, and is free to Royall House & Slave Quarters members. General admission is $5. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the museum shop and exhibits. On-street parking is available, and the museum is located on the 96 and 101 MBTA bus routes. Please email director@RoyallHouse.org for more information or visit RoyallHouse.org.
About the speaker: Alexander von Hoffman is a Senior Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and Lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He is the author of House by House, Block by Block: The Rebirth of America’s Urban Neighborhoods (Oxford University Press, 2003) and a history of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Local Attachments: The Making of an American Urban Neighborhood, 1850 to 1920 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994). Dr. Von Hoffman has published scholarly articles on urban history and essays on housing and cities for the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe, and delivered public lectures in cities across the United States. He received a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1986.
About the museum: In the eighteenth century, the Royall House & Slave Quarters was home to the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts and the enslaved Africans who made their lavish way of life possible. Architecture, furnishings, and archaeological artifacts bear witness to the intertwined stories of wealth and bondage, set against the backdrop of America’s quest for independence. The Slave Quarters is the only remaining such structure in the northern United States, and the Royall House is among the finest colonial-era buildings in New England.
- Submitted by Royall House Director Tom Lincoln