George Middleton and Louis Glapion began constructing this two-family residence at 5 Pinckney Street in 1786. Finished in 1787, this building is now the oldest extant home on Beacon Hill. This wood structure is a typical example of late 1700s Boston homes built by African Americans.
Louis Glapion worked as a hairdresser and may have been from the French West Indies. Glapion lived and ran his business out of 5 Pinckney Street until his death in 1813. His wife Lucy continued to live there until 1832.
During the American War for Independence, George Middleton led a Black militia company called the Bucks of America. While little evidence of the group has survived, they likely guarded the property of Boston merchants during the Revolution and may have also been known as the "Protectors." Near the close of the Revolution, Governor John Hancock presented the Bucks of America with a company flag. This flag is preserved in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
A horse breaker and livery man by profession, Middleton also served in several Black community organizations. He became the third Grand Master of the African Lodge, later known as the Prince Hall Masons. In 1796, Middleton and others organized the African Society (also known as the Boston African Benevolent Society), a charitable organization dedicated to community service, uplift, and education.
George Middleton married Elsey Marsh on March 11, 1781 at Trinity Church. He died in 1815, apparently not survived by his wife or children.
As a leader concerned with education, the abolition of slavery, and the needs of his community, George Middleton helped build some of the early institutions and organizations in the long history of Black activism on Beacon Hill.
Note: The George Middleton House, a site on the Black Heritage Trail®, is a private residence and is not open to the public.
Chamberlain, Allen. Beacon Hill: Its Ancient Pastures and Early Mansions. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1925.
Grover, Kathryn, and Janine V. Da Silva. "Historic Resource Study: Boston African American National Historic Site." Boston African American National Historic Site, 2002.
Kaplan, Sidney, and Emma Nogrady Kaplan. The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989.
Nell, William C. The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution with Sketches of Several Distinguished Persons: To Which is Added a Brief Survey of the Conditions and Prospects of Colored Americans. Boston: Robert F. Wallcut, 1855. Reprint. New York: Arno Press, 1968.
Last updated: January 7, 2023