The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.




Image: Experience the newly restored African Meeting House - click on image to learn more about this historic restoration.

Site 7
John Coburn House
2 Phillips Street

Image: PosterJohn P. Coburn was born about 1811 in Massachusetts and died in 1873. After working as a housewright in the 1820s, Coburn established a clothing business from his small house in the cul-de-sac off of Phillips Street.

Coburn later commissioned Boston architect Asher Benjamin to design a house for his new property on this corner between 1843 and 1844. Coburn, his wife Emmeline, and their adopted son Wendell lived here. Coburn embraced Garrisonian principles in the 1830s and went on to become treasurer of the New England Freedom Association, a petitioner in the Boston desegregation campaign, and a member of the Boston Vigilance Committee.

In the last capacity he was arrested, tried, and acquitted for the 1851 rescue of the fugitive slave Shadrach. Later in the 1850s, Coburn was co-founder and captain of the Massasoit Guards, a black military company. Coburn also established a gaming house here with brother-in-law Ira Gray. It was described as a "private place" that was "the resort of the upper ten who had acquired a taste for gambling." John Coburn died in 1873. He left the bulk of his estate to his adopted son.


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