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Urban Oasis

A hidden garden in the midst of crowded Beacon Hill

urbanoasisPhoto: Susan Ogan


ff a quiet street on Beacon Hill is a quaint and largely unknown park that’s a respite from the downtown Boston crowds. Decorated by the Beacon Hill Garden Club, the little space called the Peter Faneuil House Gardens, beside the former Peter Faneuil School, was once an abandoned playground. Now it’s a burst of color in an urban neighborhood, enclosed by historic brick buildings including affordable housing with a wing set aside for people with AIDS. Red benches sit in the shade of tall birch trees and walkways fringed with high shrubbery weave their way around stone-lined garden patches. There’s even a half basketball court, also flanked by benches for spectators, though there usually aren’t any. The hoop stands in front of brick wall, allowing stray shots to bounce back, a convenient feature for solo shooters or for lacrosse players looking to pass with themselves. Canal



Founded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is the oldest horticultural organization in the United States. It introduced the garden cemetery with Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1831, the Concord grape in 1853, and wartime victory gardens in the 1940s.