Monday, February 20, 2012

High Schools of Yore.

Boston Trade high school - closed/merged 1978 (City of Boston Archive Flickr photo group).

This is my second school post recently, this one featuring 20th century high schools that disappeared. In recent decades, so many schools have been closed that it's hard to keep track. These high schools operated during a more stable time, yet they too came and went.

Like many of these school, a single-sex institution, Boston Trade featured hands-on training over academics. I understand they had a particularly good automotive repair program.

Boston Trade, Parker street, Roxbury (Mission hill). Note Wentworth Institute across the street.

Trade School for Girls. I didn't know this one existed. Girl's Trade supposedly lasted until 1973, although I never heard of it at the time. I've seen reference to a practical nursing program.

The City of Boston Archive tweeted the original location of Girl's Trade school on Mass avenue near Washington street in the South End.

Trade High for Girls, Hemenway street, on the edge of the Fenway.

Practical Arts high school (1900-1940). This school seems to have been for students who found academic work unappealing. Thus, the 'practical.' Remember, at the time, very few students went on to college.

Practical Arts high, school at lower right. Note Dudley street at the top and Warren to the left. This would later become Girl's Latin.

The old Normal school was a preparatory high school for future teachers, typically girls. As teaching became professionalized, training extended to college, and the Boston Teacher's College was founded. When Girl's Latin moved out of the South End, it came here, adjacent to the Teacher's College. When the teacher's college was expanded, Girl's Latin was squeezed out of their home.

Note: Commenter Deb shared this link with information about the various moves of Girls's Latin/Latin Academy.

Girl's Latin school, Huntington avenue and Longwood street.

While I remember Boston Trade high school, the High School of Commerce was closed in 1954. I think we can assume a focus on office skills for this school - typing, shorthand and basic accounting skills were tickets to an office job at the time.

By the time I was in school, English High had replaced Commerce on Avenue Louis Pasteur. English, like the nearby Girl's Latin, would later be bumped from the building. Needless to say, Boston Latin school went nowhere.

Mechanic Arts high school had a contentious life. The headmaster saw it as a feeder school for M.I.T., while the school department wanted to produce factory workers. In time, the school would be renamed Boston Technical high school, and become a so-called exam school. When I attended in the late 1960s-early 1970s, it was both a college prep school and a shop skill training school.

Mechanic Arts high was on Dalton street, overlooking the Boston and Albany train yards in the Back Bay. When the Prudential Center was built, Mechanic Arts/Boston Tech moved to Roxbury, although the building was not actually taken for the project.

Note: all photos are from the City of Boston Archive Flickr photo group.


  1. Thanks for this interesting info. I don't even know if Boston has a technical/vocational high school any longer which is quite sad. I've heard of kids in Boston who petition to go to Norfolk Aggie in Walpole.

  2. Kathy - I actually removed a couple of sentences about the closing of Boy's Trade school because I read that it had been folded into Madison Park high as some kind of 'occupational' school. I'm not sure if they re-created the trades program or made the move in name only. I do doubt they're teaching welding and auto repair these days.

  3. There is a ton of auto repair at Madison, and the rest of its pathways are being overhauled:

    I teach at O'Bryant, and am ashamed that Boston (and most urban areas) has neglected the trade high schools, or offering any trade courses at "academic" schools.

  4. My father taught at boston tech when it was on townsend st off warren ave (now home to boaaton latin acadamy aka the former girls latin). he loved it til it turned co-ed - think he had a hard time adapting to the fairer sex in his classroom....he was always running into former students - lots of cops...

  5. Good to hear Madison does car repair - I stand corrected. I feared all that had gone in the war against 'tracking.'

    I was there when girls were first admitted to Tech. There was a sense of having our own place, though God knows why teenage boys wouldn't want teenage girls about. I suspect that some of the teachers got comfortable dealing with boys, and found it difficult dealing with the addition of girls and all that meant to the classroom.

  6. Mark

    As a Tech grad you might be interested in a history I wrote of Mechanic Arts (and Boston Tech) from its beginning in 1893) to the end of its stay in the Back Bay in 1960. You can find it at by searching for "No Smoking In The Triangle" or by clicking on a link at my website, .

    A few years back I thought that a book called "Lost Boston High Schools" might be an interesting read. It would probably be a lot of work to pull it all together, though. I mentioned the idea to Anthony Sammarco, noted local historian, who happens to be a Boston Tech alumnus.

    I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

    Tom H, Boston Tech Class of 1957

  7. Mark, for the history of all the buildings the Girls' Latin School has been shuttled to through the years, please see

    The schools name was changed in the 70s, it went coed at the same time as Tech (now the O'Bryant) and Boston Latin School.

  8. My name is Dart Adams, I'm a lifelong resident of the South End (going on 37 years) and I remember the construction of the Orange Line, the removal of the L and the building of Southwest Corridor Park well but I'm having trouble finding old maps of the South End/Lower Roxbury area of Boston before the I-95 extension and the Southwest Corridor park building or the constructions of the Prudential in 1960 and the Hancock Tower in 1975. Can you possibly point me in the right direction to find any? Thanks in advance.

    Dart Adams

  9. You can see the maps sold by Ward Maps here:

    A better site that takes a while to learn to navigate is the Boston Atlas:

    I recommend using the New Flash Viewer. Then choose Add Layer Group, Boston Public Library, Bromley Atlases.

    The Boston Public Library also has many maps available :

  10. My mother attended the High School of Practical Arts graduating in 1927 at age 16. It was a school where girls went to learn specific skills for jobs like housekeeping. As far as I know it had nothing to do with finding academics unappealing as my mother had a strong academic schedule. She "majored" in art and went from there to Framingham Normal School. On graduating from there in 1929 at age 18 she became an assistant in the Art Department at Roxbury Memorial High School where she taught until marrying in 1935. She died this past February at 102 years.

  11. It is a shame that these schools closed.
    I attended Boston Trade in the late 60's and early 70's and thought it would always be there to reflect upon but, was not to be. I almost feel as if a good memory has been ripped from my past.

    1. my friend attended girls trade on hemenway st fenway thats where the cookbook was developed thanks for any help...kathleen graduated 1958-1960 thnx again

  12. Hello, My name is Brenda; I attended the best all Boys school called Boston Trade High School on 550 Parker Avenue in Mission Hill. Eventually a few more females were assigned to this school. I graduated in June 1978. I was in electrical and plumbing with other curriculum classes. Unsure why it is noted that this school closed in 1970 when I graduated from there in 1978. Boston Trade High school had enormous support networks and hands on shops for everyone to choose from. I personally think closing the school was not a good idea. As a graduated of Boston Trade High the only wish I ever wanted was to have a school reunion. As a female going into an all boys school I can say great memories of all the respect I received by all the boy classmates. I do have my year book and I hope eventually I can locate classmates who attended Boston Trade High School on 550 Parker street.

  13. Your information about the High School of Practical Arts is incorrect. It continued there at 35 Greenville Street until 1953. Then it became Girl's High School in the fall of that same year. Girl's High continued at that site until 1974. In the fall of 1974 the name changed to Roxbury High School. That was the first year of Desegregation and only grade 11 was housed there for students in the new South Boston/Roxbury school zone. The following year 9th-12th graders were assigned. In 1981 Roxbury High School closed and in September, the Dearborn Middle School moved into the building from the old site in Orchard Park. The Dearborn Middle School continued there until 2013. In 2013 the funding for a new Dearborn 6-12 STEM Early College Academy was approved and a 9th grade was added. In September of 2014, the Dearborn 6-12 Stem Early College Academy added grade 10, and was relocated to the 4th floor of the Burke High School temporarily, until the newly constructed facility is completed.

  14. I attended Boston Trade High School from 1958-1960. Graduated from the Aviation Dept. And went on to Boston University's College of Industrial Technology. From there spent the next 41 years in the aviation industry as a mechanic, inspector and retiring as an avionics technician. Boston Trade provided a great start to my very succesful career. Even though it closed in 1978, today is still provides a great education to the students of Wentworth Institute.

  15. Hello, does anyone have history on the Boston School Cadet programs from the 20-30's? I am researching a cadet uniform I have that has B.T.S. on the collar. I suspect it relates to Boston Trade or Tech School??

  16. I graduated from Girls Trade 1965.Was beautiful on the inside. Pipe organ on the 5th floor,Marble fireplaces. They had Sewing, Power stitching, Home economics.Cosmotology JR and SR Years... Nurse trainig was post graduates.