An Early History of Codman Square
Codman Square existed as a crossroads in a farming district from the time of its settlement in the mid-seventeenth century. Its main road, called the upper of High Road, was renamed Washington Street because George Washington traveled along the road regularly during the fortification of Dorchester Heights before the first Evacuation Day on March 17, 1776.
The Square began to develop with the building of the Second Church in Dorchester in 1805-6, which was the result of increased population in southern Dorchester. Inhabitants complained of the long distances they had to travel and of the overcrowded conditions at the first Church at Meeting House Hill. After the building of the Second Church, Reverend John Codman, after whom the square is named, was made first minister. Reverend Codman bought a mansion, which was located near what is now the intersection of Washington Street and Gallivan Boulevard. The Codman farm was located on the hill in the back of the mansion, and over the years the hill became knows as Codman Hill. The Second Church is the oldest Congressional Meeting House in Boston that is still used as a church. Its bell, placed in the church tower in 1816, was cast by Paul Revere. The tower clock was a gift of Walter Baker of chocolate fame. Daniel Webster and John Adams were among the early visitors to the church.
The second major development in the history of Codman Square was the building of the Dorchester Town Hale in 1817. Located where the Codman Square Health Center now stands, it was built in Codman Square for the square's central location and also as an expression of the separation of church and state. The previous center of town government was the First church on Meeting House Hill. The Town Hall was demolished in 1902 to make way for the Codman Square Library, now the health center.
The Church and Town Hall made Codman Square the civic and religious center of Dorchester and paved the way for its development as the commercial center of the present.
Special thanks to Wiliam Walczak, school co-founder and president of the Codman Academy Board of Trustees, for contributing this article.