Dillaway-Thomas House

Dillaway-Thomas House

Built 1750

Arrowstreet, Leonardi Aray Architects, renovation, 2020

National Register of Historic Places

Boston Landmark

Preservation Achievement Award, 2020

The Dillaway-Thomas House is one of the few surviving examples of 18th century domestic architecture in Boston. It is five bays wide and two bays deep with a gambrel roof. The entrance is covered by a Federal style small rectangular portico supported by Doric columns, an early 1800’s addition. Built in 1750 as the parsonage for the First Church of Roxbury, the house served an important role in the American Revolution. Following a careful restoration by the Commonwealth, it serves today as a museum and home to the Roxbury Historical Society.

Reverend Amos Adams lived in the parsonage with his family until 1775 when the house, with its strategic location and exceptional vantage point, became the headquarters for General John Thomas in the early days of the Revolution. Thomas assembled over 2,000 local troops in Roxbury to support the Siege of Boston, effectively blocking the only land route off the Shawmut peninsula and forcing the British out of the city by sea.

Later, the house served for many years as a women’s day school and home for international students under the ownership of Martha and Charles Dillaway, who was headmaster of Boston Latin and a contributor to the city's intellectual life. In 1927 the house was almost demolished, but local residents resisted under the leadership of the Roxbury Historical Society, preserving it and turning it into a museum in the 1930s.

The house underwent major renovations in 1984, and became the headquarters of Roxbury Heritage State Park in 1992. From 2017-2019, after brainstorming sessions, hands-on workshops, stakeholder meetings, and community outreach guided plans, restoration work revitalized the property. On the main house, rotting wood was repaired, and the siding, exterior paint, and masonry were restored. The annex was also updated with new windows and doors. Systems were updated to meet modern life safety codes. The visitor experience was prioritized in the restoration, and the interior was restored to its former glory with a historically accurate color palette, the landscaping was refreshed to be more welcoming. New interactive exhibits highlight the historic importance of the house and the surrounding Roxbury community, supporting live programming provided for visitors by RHS staff.

Dillaway-Thomas House

Dillaway-Thomas House, 183 Roxbury St, Roxbury, Massachusetts 02119, United States