The rich past and vibrant present we call Roxbury
This is a place around which a community has been evolving into a modern world for a very long time now. Today we bring people together across race, class and faith to this place on the hill. The connections to First Church in Roxbury are personal. Rich. And alive with personality.
“First Church is part of my history. My sister was married there in 1981. The papers I wrote about it were displayed in the school committee building. And I’ve celebrated Patriots’ Day there for most of my life.”
Joyce is a lifelong Roxbury resident, Executive Director of Dudley Main Streets, activist, community builder and member of the Roxbury Collaborative.
“In 1883, my great-grandfather, Rev. James DeNormandie, his wife Emily and their four sons left Portsmouth, New Hampshire to become the minister of First Church in Roxbury. To this day, our family feels a warm relationship to a church that once was–—and still is—a focus point of the Roxbury and greater Boston community.
Philip is founder of DeNormandie Companies, which develops, maintains and manages unique properties with historic significance around the country.
“Place matters in history. And this place matters because it is a real part of Roxbury’s history for over 200 years. History is more and more difficult to understand if you don’t see and maintain the pieces of it which survive.”
Byron is a State Representative and Majority Whip in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and former President of the Museum of Afro-American History.
Rev. Joe and Dr. Angela Cook
“We represent our Black and Native people who helped to build this church. Please come back to reclaim and restore it. Restored, it can be shared by all people, but especially our people, who have drifted away or who have not felt included.”
Joe and Angela are founders of Roxbury’s Paige Academy, which is committed to a culturally affirming and developmentally based education for children from 6 to 12 years old.
“For me, this Meeting House stands as a witness to the history of our nation, our Commonwealth, the peoples of Roxbury and our Unitarian Universalist faith. Preserving this beautiful building goes hand in hand with renewing and rebuilding connections to our history, our communities and our highest aspirations for humanity.”
Beth is Music Director for First Parish in Concord, music ambassador for concert pilgrimages to Eastern Europe, and Co-Director of the UUMN Good Offices program.
Anne Parker Schmalz
“My father often talked about our family history in Roxbury and sometimes drove us around Eliot Square to see where his father has been born and to admire the old church. My ancestors Charles and Nabby Durant owned pew #8 1804. In 1823, they moved downstairs to #322 and in 1825, up to #62. We like to sit in this pew if we can.”
Anne, a member of the Dorchester Historical Society, grew up in Wellesley. She and husband Robert raised a family in New Haven, CT, before retiring back in the Boston area.