Jamaica Plain has been patrolled by some form of police officer since it began emerging as a distinct neighborhood in the 1850s. The home base for those officers has varied widely, from a grand Victorian structure to a long period with no local police station at all.
The earliest known local policing was organized in the mid-1800s, when JP was part of the Town of West Roxbury. The force was called the West Roxbury Town Watch.
In those early days, the police station was typically combined in a town hall with a trial court and other municipal services. The current home of the Footlight Club community theater at 7A Eliot St. in the Monument Square area was one early town hall, and Curtis Hall on South Street briefly served as a police station as well. The police station then moved to a new town hall on Thomas Street in central JP, a site that today is a City parking lot.
In 1874, the Town of West Roxbury merged into the City of Boston. The much larger Boston Police Department (BPD) took over local policing. In preparation for that change, a massive new police station and courthouse was built in 1873 at 28 Seaverns Ave. in central JP. It was designed in Victorian Gothic style, with arched windows and peaked dormers and steeples. A large brick addition to the back along Starr Lane was constructed in 1890.
The Seaverns Avenue building served as JP’s police station for over 100 years. It closed in 1976 and became apartments that have since been converted into condominiums. The building exterior looks much the same now as it did in the 1870s.
After that closure, JP was without a local police station for two decades. Crime concerns increased, then hit the breaking point with the burst of violent drug-related crime in the 1980s and ’90s. In 1996, BPD opened a new police station at the corner of Green and Washington streets in the Brookside area. In contrast to the former Seaverns Avenue station, it is a modest building designed in the modern utilitarian style. It remains JP’s police station today, covering BPD District E-13, which roughly corresponds to the neighborhood’s boundaries.
Sources: Jamaica Plain Historical Society and Boston Police Department historian Officer Robert Anthony.