Harrison Gray Otis House (First) - Boston, MA
Posted by: NorStar
N 42° 21.672 W 071° 03.879
19T E 329977 N 4691945
Quick Description: The Harrison Gray Otis House, designed by Charles Bulfinch, is the first house for the Otis family and is now the headquarters for Historic New England.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 9/5/2011 6:36:42 PM
Waymark Code: WMCGMR
In Boston, on Cambridge Street, there is a brick building that is the Harrison Gray Otis House. This building, originally the house of a lawyer and developer, is now the headquarters for Historic New England, who offers regular tours of the house.
The house was designed and built in 1796 by Charles Bulfinch for Harrison Gray Otis and his wife, Sarah. Otis was a known lawyer and developer, and was a member of Congress and a former mayor of Boston. Otis would eventually have three houses in Boston; this was the first. The Otis' would live there for only four years before moving higher up Beacon Hill, where as part of the Mount Veron Associates, he had developed houses.
Charles Bulfinch was a noted architect of this era. He designed many building, including schools, houses, and public buildings. His most noted works are the State House Capitol and the U.S. Capitol.
The Historic New England Web Site has the following about the house:
"Bulfinch’s design of the Otis House shows typical characteristics of the Federal style, including a heavy emphasis on symmetry, classical window shapes like fanlight windows, and the very fashionable Palladian windows on the second floor. The Otis House is an excellent example of a high-style home in the Federal era. Most houses built in Boston at this time were not nearly as large and grand as the Otis House."
Check the Historic New England Web Site for a virtual tour of the house.
The next owner was John Osborn, who was a paint merchant. After that, it became a multi-family house. It later became the place for Dr. and Mrs. Mott’s "Patent Champoo Baths,” for medicinal treatments of a variety of ailments. It then went through various owners and became a boarding house, until, finally, it became a museum.
In 1916, Sumner Appleton bought the property for his new organization, the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPINEA), which is now called Historic New England. For several years later, renovations were made to the house. In 1925, they received notice from Boston that Cambridge Street was going to be widened, and the new width of the house would run through the front of the house. So, the row houses behind the Otis house were purchased and demolished, so that the house could be moved back.
Today, tours are available. The following is information from the site (2011):
Wednesday – Sunday, year round
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tours every half hour. Last tour at 4:30 p.m.
Closed most major holidays. Open July 4.
Free for Historic New England members and Boston residents
Earliest Recorded Date of Construction: 1/1/1796
Architectural Period/Style: Federalist
Architect (if known): Charles Bulfinch
Landscape Designer (if known): Not known
Type of Building e.g. Country House, Stately Home, Manor:
Interesting Historical Facts or Connections:
First house for Harrison Otis, who was a lawyer, a developer, a member of Congress, and a former mayor of Boston.
The house is presently the headquarters of Historic New England.
Listed Building Status (if applicable): National Register of Historic Landmarks
Main Material of Construction: Brick
Private/Public Access: Private, non-profit, puplically accessible during hours posted.
Admission Fee (if applicable): 8.00 (listed in local currency)
Opening Hours (if applicable): From: 11:00 AM To: 5:00 PM
Related Website: [Web Link]
Additional Dates of Construction: Not listed
Tell us about your visit with any details of interest about the property. Please supply at least one original photograph from a different aspect taken on your current visit.
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