Boston Chinatown’s old Josiah Quincy School placed on National Register of Historic Places

The former Quincy School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as shown on April 29, 2016. (Image courtesy of Ling-Mei Wong.)

The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England (CCBA) will open its 48th Annual Celebration of the Boston August Moon Festival at 10 a.m. August 13 announcing its headquarters, located at 90 Tyler Street, has been officially listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

“I am thrilled that Chinatown is finally receiving national recognition for its Chinese immigrant heritage. For over 150 years, the Chinese settled in Boston and built a community. The Old Quincy School has served many immigrant families and we are proud it is finally receiving prominent attention.” stated Paul Chan, CCBA President.

The Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Chinese Historical Society of New England, CHSNE, spearheaded this effort with receipt of a $20,000 grant from the National Park Service Underrepresented Communities Fund. Of possible sites identified, the Quincy School ranked highest based upon historic and cultural significance, and its largely intact historic condition. Constructed in 1848, the Josiah Quincy School features the first classrooms separated by age and grade in the United States. Elementary aged immigrant children from the Chinatown area attended class there for 135 years, until 1983 when the building was conveyed by City of Boston to the CCBA for use as a community center. Since this time, the CCBA has operated this building as headquarters for its 34 umbrella member organizations, and as local incubator for 27 Chinatown based traditional cultural arts, dance and music groups.

With placement of Quincy School on the National Register, Boston’s Chinatown joins communities across Massachusetts and the United States in honoring its immigrant heritage and sacrifice of ancestors whose struggles have contributed to the building of the melting-pot nation. The Quincy School is the first building on the East Coast and 13th nationwide attributed to Chinese Immigrant history. CCBA and CHSNE’s collaboration included public meetings to spread interest in Chinatown history, and the completion by the National Park Service of an official Chinatown history, or “context study”. This study provides reference dates and places for use in the ongoing recording of local history, provides a factual basis for Chinatown heritage tours, and will allow Chinatown building owners seeking historic recognition to more easily apply to the program. More information about the National Historic Register is available in Chinese and English at CHSNE.org.

CCBA’s continued role as a historic leader in preserving Chinese cultural heritage and bringing unity to Boston’s Chinese immigrant community is also recognized with this honor. Founded nearly a hundred years ago, the CCBA of New England was chartered out of Bejing via New York City, and has continuously operated as a gatekeeper representing Chinatown’s interest locally and nationwide. In addition to hosting community meetings, forums, performances and exhibitions at the Quincy School, it is primary sponsor of major Chinatown events including the Chinese New Year Lion Dance and the August Moon Festival.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council awarded CCBA a grant for $30,000 to study the feasibility of creating a visitor center on Chinese immigrant heritage at Quincy School. Plans include exhibit space, digital media, a heritage trail to showcase Chinatown’s immigrant history, with potential connections to nearby established Boston tourism routes. This study will consider improvements which preserve the historical character of the building, and facilitate an enriched experience for visitors and residents.

The announcement will be at the main stage located at Phillips Square, on Harrison Avenue, between Essex and Beach streets, in Chinatown.

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