Founder’s Day Celebrates Boston and John Eliot

On November 5, Roxbury Latin celebrated its annual Founder’s Day, honoring the very beginning of the school, founded in 1645 under King Charles I by “the good apostle” John Eliot. In this 375th anniversary year, the school celebrated the history of the City of Boston and Roxbury Latin’s place within it.

The day began in Rousmaniere Hall with choruses of “Jerusalem” and readings in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, and English from members of Class I. Massachusetts Maritime Academy Professor, and RL alumnus from the Class of 1982, Dr. Christopher Hannan gave the morning’s Hall address. Chris studied pre-modern European history at Harvard, earned his master’s in Medieval History from St. Andrew’s in Scotland, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Colonial American History at Boston College. Chris has studied and written extensively about John Eliot, and on Tuesday morning he told stories from Eliot’s life of service as a teacher, writer, and evangelist. Chris focused particularly on the herculean task of creating a written Algonquin language from the spoken one and using it to translate the Bible, which Eliot undertook in order to convert the indigenous people to Christianity.

At the conclusion of Hall, all 304 boys and more than 55 faculty and staff members piled onto the MBTA Commuter Rail for a full day in Boston’s Back Bay. (This is an appropriate time to thank all of the commuters who shared their train with us on Tuesday.) Throughout the day, boys got a faculty-guided tour of the Back Bay, meandering past the Boston Public Library and the Arlington Street Church, to the Public Garden and learning about the history of one of their city’s most historic neighborhoods. As they made their way down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, boys regarded statues of the first published African writer in America Phyllis Wheatly, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, and the sailor and maritime historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, among others.

Then it was up to the Skywalk in the Prudential Center (after, for some, a quick pit stop at Eataly for gelato), where boys enjoyed panoramic views of the city and interactive exhibits on Boston’s history and neighborhoods. Before the train home, the group gathered in Trinity Church at Copley Square, considered by members of the American Association of Architects as one of the country’s top 10 most important buildings. Welcomed by Trinity Church’s rector and RL parent, Reverend Morgan Allen, boys learned the fascinating historical and architectural facts about the building itself. The British Consul General to New England, Harriet Cross, also spoke, offering her thoughts on the founding of Roxbury Latin and its ties over the years to England. 

Back on campus there was ice cream for all, and another Founder’s Day was in the books. The day’s rain did not dampen spirits, and all enjoyed a special day, in a very special year.

View photos from this year’s Founder’s Day adventure.

On Thursday evening, alumni and faculty gathered for the annual Founder’s Day Pub Night in Boston. View photos from that gathering of friends.