The House on Haunted Hill

Map of the City of Boston dated 1895 on aged creamy paper with pink and yellow marks, showing the Roxbury district
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

by Jennie Rose Halperin

One morning in late 2022, my husband looked out our bedroom window and saw a murder of crows amid the branches of the leafless black walnut trees on our lawn. The house, built in 1850 for Samuel Cobb, three-term mayor of Boston and notable anti-communist, sat at the top of Boston’s historic Fort Hill. The Hill, known for its active, multi-racial community and quiet, wooded streets, is a quarter square mile of stately Georgian homes walking distance from downtown. Like much of the city, the neighborhood was blighted and neglected in the 1960s, and gentrification arrived more slowly than it did in other neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain or the South End due in large part to historic racism. (Fort Hill is in Roxbury, which is 57% Black.) For Bostonians in the know, an address on the Hill is highly desirable – we felt incredibly lucky when we found it, one of three condominiums (with a roof deck!) in a former mansion, after only a few months of searching. But soon after we signed the paperwork, the ghosts descended.

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