The Mather School
The Mather School was founded by this congregation, as a vehicle for the creation of an educated citizenry. It is the oldest free public elementary school in North America, It was named after Richard Mather, an English-born American Congregational minister who emigrated to Boston and settled in Dorchester in 1635, the third minister of our congregation.
The first school building, established in 1639, was a one room schoolhouse, on what had been known as “Settlers’ Street,” near the corner of the present Pleasant and Cottage Streets. All grades shared a single classroom and teacher. The original schoolhouse served until 1694, when a contract was made to build a house twenty feet long and nineteen feet wide, with a ground floor, a chamber above, a flight of stairs, and a chimney on the same site where the fire station on Parish Street is now.
The current building, immediately adjacent to First Parish Dorchester, was designed by architects Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson and was built in 1904 and first occupied in 1905. The Mather currently serves 600+ racially diverse students in grades K1-5 under the leadership of Principal Rochelle Valdez. FPD remains proud of our role in the history of the Mather School, and we continue to partner with them in many ways, including providing space for some of their partnership programs, like BalletRox movement and dance classes, and many parts of the year-long celebration of their recent 375th anniversary.