They don’t make ’em like they used to.

The James Blake House is nestled in Richardson Park on Columbia Road – near the Giant Pear – just a quick 400 yards from its original location back in 1661 – which is now a parking lot for National Grid on Mass. Ave. This is the first recorded instance in New England of a historic building being moved to a new location in order to prevent its demolition.

The city acquired the home from George J. and Antonia Quinsler in September of 1895, for $8000. (Image what it would sell for today?) The sale included nearly 11,000 square feet of land, next to other parcels of land the city was acquiring to make way for municipal greenhouses.

Drawing of home from its original location.

Originally the home of James and Elizabeth Blake who were English immigrants, the property was passed down to their family until it was acquired by the city of Boston in 1895.  It was then sold to the Dorchester Historical Society in 1896.

Background of the Blakes

James Blake was born in England near Pitminster, in 1624.  He emigrated with his family to Dorchester in the 1630s. Deacon James Blake became a constable, town selectman, and deputy to the General Court. James Blake and Elizabeth Clap (the daughter of Deacon Edward Clap and niece of Roger Clap) were married in 1651 and decided to build a house. It was handed down to their children and then their grandchildren. The rest is history.

You can read the history of the owners of this house here if you’re a real history buff.


Many of the early colonial homes of this time were built by builders (or housewrights) from the south and east of England which were mostly brick and plaster buildings. But the Blake House was built like homes of western England, which used heavy timber in their framing methods. According to the Dorchester Historical Society, the Blake House is a two-story, central chimney, gable-roof dwelling of timber-frame construction. It measures 38 by 20 feet.

Home Decor

Architectural Digest did a feature on designer Sarah Cole and her experience helping a caretaker decorate a historic home.  You can check it out here including some gorgeous photos!

Currently, the house operates as a museum with a live-in caretaker which is a tradition dating back to 1910.

You can learn more about this home by visiting the Dorchester Historical Society.  Consider making a donation to this important neighborhood organization!



  1. Sylvia Bent. March 22, 2023 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    From 1950 to 1955, as a teenager from Walpole, Ma., I spent summer vacation weeks with my cousins, the Sullivan’s of Humphreys Street. Our favorite hangout was “The Blakie”. I met many city friends there and made wonderful memories.

  2. Shelley March 23, 2023 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Nice article. Thanks for this

  3. Pam Griswold March 24, 2023 at 6:16 am - Reply

    Great article!

    • John March 25, 2023 at 1:14 am - Reply

      Raised in Southie doesn’t mean you’re original, unless you’ve lived through the Whitey days, and your parents and family were in Southie for generations. That’s an original, not a kid born in late 90’s 2000s to yuppie parents…that’s a yuppie raised in Southie not an original.

      • Christopher Bader March 25, 2023 at 9:53 am - Reply

        Gatekeep much?

      • Adneris Diaz March 28, 2023 at 1:45 pm - Reply


      • Blake Family April 27, 2023 at 8:35 pm - Reply

        Raised during the Whitey days don’t make you an original either. If anything, we try to forget he ever lived there and hope the memory of him and his evil dies from now till eternity.

  4. Carolyn Lebovitz March 24, 2023 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    History of Boston is very interesting and fascinating.

  5. Nikky March 25, 2023 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. I will visit the “The Blakie” sometime. I like and understand John’s points in his comment. I came to Massachusetts in the early 1970’s and had lived the decades through television and newspapers when Southie was the headline news.

  6. Mark Pumphrey March 26, 2023 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Nice article. So many of these 17th century homes were destroyed. Hard to find them with two full stories and an attic. Looks like the additions were removed when it was relocated. I wonder if it was moved intact or disassembled?

  7. Susan Ellen Goche March 27, 2023 at 7:50 am - Reply

    My aunt on my mother’s side lived with her husband there in the 60’s and they brought their first son home to the Blake house. When they moved out my uncle on my father’s side moved in with his wife and family. My grandparents on my fathers side moved in after that and stayed into the early 70’s. They all attended Stoughton Street Baptist church and I-remember my youth group going there for a picnic snd running around the yard. We had many family gatherings there snd enjoyed sledding down the hill beside the Blake House. We also had many sleep overs when my grandparents lived there so great memories of this historical home.

    • frances Hale March 27, 2023 at 3:10 pm - Reply

      Nancy’s daughter, right? Your Aunt, Janice, and I are still friends from the Edw Everett, kindergarten. Or as OFD’s say, kidneygarden.

  8. guest March 27, 2023 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Dorchester in the past might be beautiful, but Dorchester nowadays is pretty much a ghetto. Once you turn an area into the ghetto, it’s difficult to turn it back.

    • Adneris Diaz March 28, 2023 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      What you trying to say?

    • Yo MMA January 16, 2024 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Lordt yall are some ignorant folk here..smh lol Dorchester is my home, no matter what! Ghetto or not you’re not welcomed anyway.

  9. Dave March 28, 2023 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    This building is in great danger. I drive by frequently. The exterior needs serious TLC.

  10. Jim Mulligan OFD March 29, 2023 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Have not heard or even thought of klndeygarden in years.

  11. Larry Regan April 10, 2023 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Born , bred ,schooled, played whiffle ball- PIMPLE Ball -Russell Schoolyard football – street hockey – and some made up sport called ( Stone Ball) for obvious reasons on the “ Blakey” – kissed my first girlfriends — currently live and have always lived in Dorchester – worked my whole life – opened up a business and gave my soul to the best of the best parish’s as an alter boy for 5 years at St . Margaret’s – Fr Dunn ( Dorchester historian in his own rite ) Fr. Walsh / jolly and funny – Fr Varysilus ( I’m sure I spelled it incorrectly ) – What had not been mentioned in the above article at this time was this story Fr Dunn told me after A mass I had served – the story goes that ( Mr. Blake was a statesman for Boston , Mass – he was invited to speak as the opening politician before the then current president at the time “ Abraham Lincoln – He began speaking in front of a large crowd for almost two hour, being a well spoken man he mustered as many dictionary words he could to a rather thunderous applause upon completion – Lincoln then was asked to further comment on the situation- then as we all know what will go down in history as one of the greatest speeches ever given , Lincoln pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and delivered as we all know now as “ The Gettysburg Address “. The Crowd completely stunned for the moment then burst into an applause heard in Boston – On a train home to Boston days later ,statesman Robert Blake was asked by a reporter what he thought of the president’s speech – he responded as such. – a” President Lincoln said to the country. In 90 seconds what I could not in almost two hours – are you not glad he is our president and not I – Nice to know we have the right person for the job / well done ! My youngest daughter just moved out of the house to my brother in laws three decker on Columbia Rd directly across from the Blakey – First story I told her when we moved her in -I love Dorchester – both my parents immigrated from Ireland here and raised the normal ( 7-8-9 child ) family at the time. – I couldn’t leave even if I wanted ( which I don’t ) Makes me sad when driving by my old stomping grounds on almost a daily basis – to remember all the good times I had – that we all had – how we all looked out for o e another / No , it wasn’t perfect- who wants perfect – there was much blood spilled on the sidewalks , on the street tar , the baseball fields, , the schoolyards – as the years go by I’ve never run into an old pal , neighbor, family member , old friend who whose first words to me are (. So good to see you – remember when we. ???? growing up – next time ur in the area – stop and look around – I’m sure a good memory will come back to you if you from the area – something I can’t explain – only something you had the pleasure of experiencing. – cheers. DORCHESTER ☘️

  12. Carol Bird Lagana April 26, 2023 at 6:42 am - Reply

    This house is similar to my ancestral home, The Bird Sawyer house that was located on Humphrey’s Street, built in the 1630’s and used by Washington as his headquarters during the securing of Dorchester Heights during the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, that house was empty during the 1920’s/30’s and neighbors would take the wood from the house to burn during the Depression (and rightly so!). Before it was torn down in the 1940’s, an Historical Society went in and took measurements of every inch of that house, every piece of wood, every hinge and drew up blueprints which we were able to obtain a copy of from the Library of Congress. The Blake House is such a great representation of the homes at that time and I hope they maintain it!

  13. Tom Ferrara May 25, 2023 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I lived in the triple decker behind the Blake House, 211 E. Cottage St. in 1952, I was born at Carney Hospital in Southie and lived in the projects but my grandmother lived there on E Cottage. I remember sledding down the hill by the Blake House thinking it was a mountain until i went back and saw it was a no even a hill. I would snoop around the Blake house all the time. Great memories.

  14. Dorothy Greene July 21, 2023 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    About 5 years ago I got a friend of mine who will drive in the Boston area to go with me on a day when it was open. When we got there they had place a sign on the door that it would be closed that day. We then went to see the two Clapp houses. She died a few years ago so I guess that I have missed my chance to see more than the outside of the building. I’ll drive from Texas to MA but I sure won’t drive in Boston traffic.

  15. Jim Horgan July 22, 2023 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Grew up on Norfolk St. In Dorchester. #342. One mile down from Codman Sq. Just below St. Matthews. A three decker that’s no longer there. It was a nice place back in the Sixties.

  16. Bill Walczak December 30, 2023 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    I was the caretaker of the Blake House from 1976. There were some difficult youths in the area at the time and angel dust was the drug of choice. My predecessors left suddenly after some frightening incidents including the regular stoning of the Columbia Point T buses, and the Historical Society asked me and my wife if we’d move in for a few weeks while they considered moving the house over to their Boston Street property. I was asked because I was a probation officer at the Dorchester Court. After a few interactions with the kids, they decided to find another location and we wound up staying for 5 years. We loved living in the house. I was studying colonial history at UMass Boston at the time, so it was perfect. When visitors would come., we’d take them over to the Dorchester North Burial Ground and show them the Blake graves. There is a great deal of history in the Edward Everett Square area which John McColgan’s Pear Square initiative strives to celebrate. It’s time for the City to pay attention to this historic district.

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