This 1881 map shows the city of Boston a year before Mary Baker Eddy moved there. 2001.0004.1 (Henry Walling [1825-89], was the surveyor of this map, as well as another map in our collection.)

 

From 1866 (the year she discovered Christian Science) until 1882, Mary Baker Eddy lived in various towns and cities in eastern Massachusetts. She never resided in one house for very long. After staying in boarding houses and living for brief periods with friends and students, Eddy finally found some stability in 1875, when she purchased a house at 8 Broad Street in Lynn. She left that home four years later and moved to Boston for the winter with her husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy.

Mary Baker Eddy had great affection for the largest city in Massachusetts. “I love Boston,” she wrote, “and especially the laws of the State whereof this city is the capital. To-day, as of yore, her laws have befriended progress.”1 Additionally, she had high hopes for Boston. In the 1880s she stated: “Let it not be heard in Boston that woman…has no rights which man is bound to respect.”2 Regarding her move, biographer Robert Peel wrote that “with its broader cultural horizon, [Boston] provided a more fertile field than Lynn.”3

Eddy’s first stay in Boston did not last long; by the latter half of 1880, she and her husband returned to their Lynn house. In April 1882, after travels to Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, the couple settled in Boston’s South End neighborhood at 569 Columbus Avenue. It was at this address and next door (571 Columbus) that Eddy both resided and taught students of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College.

569 and 571 Columbus Avenue

569 and 571 Columbus Avenue. This is where Mary Baker Eddy lived from 1882 to 1887. It was also home to the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. (P05362.)

Boston in 1882 was quite different from today’s city—culturally, socially, and even geographically. An 1881 map in The Mary Baker Eddy Library collection shows the recent addition of the Back Bay neighborhood, where The First Church of Christ, Scientist (The Mother Church) now stands.

Many of the streets near The Mother Church did not exist in the 1880s. Massachusetts Avenue—the street that runs along one side of today’s Christian Science Plaza—was called West Chester Park when the Eddys moved to Boston. Rail lines cut across the Back Bay, and what is now the South Bay area was still a tidal marsh. Over the next century, dredging and urban development changed the landscape of the city.

In 1889 Eddy moved back to her native New Hampshire, returning to Boston for occasional visits. By then, however, she had established a solid presence there, having founded a growing Christian Science movement that would match Boston’s rapid development.

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  1. Mary Baker Eddy, Pulpit and Press (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1895), 7.
  2. Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1908), 45.
  3. Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1971), 68.