The Schoolmaster Hill Ruins is one of the coolest abandoned locations in Boston, Massachusetts. It features the remains of a multi-use building designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Schoolmaster Hill is a beautiful place and long before Franklin Park was established, it was attracting visitors. One of the most famous visitors of Schoolmaster Hill was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson was the leader of the Transcendentalism movement and for two years he lived in a small cabin at the top of the hill. For those two years, Emerson spent time exploring the surrounding area and writing poetry and essays about nature.
Years after Ralph Waldo Emerson lived on Schoolmaster Hill, it was added to the footprint of Franklin Park. Franklin Park was developed in the 1880s by Frederick Law Olmsted and he had a special plan for what to build on the hill. Olmsted wanted to highlight the stunning views from the top of the hill and decided to build a multi-use building. It served as a superintendent’s office and visitors center when it first opened in 1882. There were many vine-covered trellises and tables and seats that allowed visitors to sit and enjoy the views. Also, hot water was provided to allow visitors to relax and make a cup of tea. In the early years of the park, the Schoolmaster Hill building looked out on a meadow known as Country Park.
Over the years, changes occurred at Franklin Park. In 1896, a golf course was constructed on the land previously used for the Country Park. The eighteen-hole William J. Devine Memorial Golf Course became the second oldest public course in the nation. When the golf course was established, a few changes occurred to the building on Schoolmaster Hill. John Charles Olmsted, the nephew and adopted son of Frederick Law Olmsted, was tasked with re-designing the building to make it more useful for visitors to the golf course. He added the capability for the building to be a clubhouse for golfers.
Sadly, a fire in the 1930s largely damaged the old structure, which had been used as a golf clubhouse for years. The ruins, which had remained mostly unaltered in the 60 years following the fire, were partially restored in the 1990s by the Franklin Park Coalition and the Boston Parks Department. Schoolmaster Hill is now just comprised of the hollow, the building’s ruins that have been repaired, and one of Boston’s most stunning lookouts. There are plenty of benches and shaded areas which make it a great place to relax and enjoy the views!
- Year Built: 1882
- Year Abandoned: 1930s
- Original Function: Multi-use building which was originally home to Frankin Park’s visitors center and superintends offices
Schoolmaster Hill Ruins Location
- Address: 1 Circuit Drive
- Town: Boston
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: 42.302995, -71.095831
- Parking Notes: Visitors can park across the street from the ruins in a large dirt parking lot. This parking area is located along Circuit Drive. Parking here is free.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE