Lexington, Massachusetts and the Underground Railroad

I mentioned a year ago in passing that our new house in Lexington, Massachusetts was on the site of the old Robbins house, rumored to be a former Underground Railroad station. This week as I thought about the Civil Rights movement, I wondered about the Underground Railroad in Lexington and did a little more research.

Judging from the National Park Service’s list of sites on the Underground Railroad by state, there aren’t any NPS-listed sites in Lexington on the UR, though Concord’s Wayside House was. In fact, the town’s historic places brochure only lists the Robbins House as an Underground Railroad site.

The stronger, historically verifiable association is between Lexington and abolition. The grandson of Minuteman John Parker, the abolitionist minister Theodore Parker, lived at the Parker homestead, formerly located at 187 Spring Street; he was not only outspoken on abolition but was one of the Secret Six who funded John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. But my immediate neighborhood has a strong claim to being an epicenter of abolitionism in Lexington. The Stone Building, located two doors down Mass Ave from us, often hosted speakers on various topics, including abolition. Next door, Follen Church, whose first minister was the abolitionist Charles Follen, frequently hosted abolitionist messages from the pulpit.

So there may be no firm documentary evidence of an Underground Railroad site in Lexington, on my property or not, but there is certainly plenty of evidence that I live in a historic hotbed of  abolitionist thinking.

3 thoughts on “Lexington, Massachusetts and the Underground Railroad”

  1. Tim, there are two relatively new books on the Underground Railroad, based on old records of Sydney Howard Gay of Hingham, editor of the Anti-slavery Standard in NYC. One is by Eric Foner of Columbia. I thought most Underground Railroad destinations in Massachusetts were in the New Bedford area. You would enjoy the Foner book.

  2. after they ripped up the railroad tracks, (which is now the bike trail) across from Vine Street. Down a little bit there was an excavation. Sometime in the 80s. They exposed the old railing and me and some friends explored it and there is definitely an underground railroad. it was down about 20 feet or so. follows the direction of the above ground tracks.

    1. You realize the “underground” in “Underground Railroad” isn’t literally underground, and the network wasn’t literally a railroad?

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