Management here. Forced to write my first guest post because I can no longer sit idly by while Dave says things like, “the Nathaniel Allen house looks like it was built in 1593.” I mean, that predates the Mayflower, the Plymouth colony, and John Winthrop, you guys. I have a reputation as a wanna-be historian to uphold here. More importantly, it turns out that the Nathaniel Allen house is an awesome piece of local and national history.
Shout out to blog reader EH for alerting us to Allen’s reputed involvement with the Underground Railroad. No, Dave, there were no actual trains on that railroad – but there were “conductors,” and Allen was an active one. Writings by his wife, Caroline, and their daughter, Lucy, confirm that the house was a stop on the Railroad. The Allens rubbed shoulders with the biggest names in the abolitionist movement during the nineteenth century. We’re taking about radical badasses like Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Charles Sumner!
If that doesn’t impress you, it’s also worth knowing that this was Allen’s main residence while he established the West Newton English & Classical school – a pioneer in co-education, racially-mixed classes, physical education, and the first school to establish a pure kindergarten in the country! The awesome team over at Historic Newton has some great info on their website about Allen, his family, the house, the school, and their significance to the education and abolitionist movements. If you’re interested in a little more background, check out the writeup on their files: http://www.newtonma.gov/gov/historic/research/collections/papers/allen.asp.