History: City of Roxbury
Because of its high elevation and location as the gateway to Boston, Roxbury became strategically important during the Revolutionary War. In 1775, the colonists built Fort Hill at Roxbury Neck to fortify the only land route into and out of Boston on the Shawmut Peninsula. Fort Hill was comprised of simple earthworks — there was no stone fort, and no tower was built. The fort became part of the Siege of Boston, which was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War in which New England militiamen (and then the Continental Army) surrounded Boston to prevent the British Army from spreading out into the countryside.
By the time of the Revolutionary War, the town of Roxbury had built its fourth meetinghouse on this site. First Church in Roxbury housed soldiers and served as a signal station and, therefore, became a target for British canon fire. By the end of the war, a great deal of property around the meetinghouse had been destroyed, and soldiers had cut down much of Roxbury’s trees, including many of the orchards the town was known for. One of the town’s priorities was to build a new meetinghouse, which would be the fifth church to be constructed on the site of the original 1632 meetinghouse in John Eliot Square. Completed in 1804, this fifth meetinghouse is the present First Church in Roxbury.