As a cradle of American history, Boston has several historic homes well worth visiting. The most fascinating is the Paul Revere House, on the Freedom Trail walking tour, but if that whets your appetite, here are several others.
In the Beacon Hill neighborhood, guided tours are offered of Otis House, 141 Cambridge St. (tel. 617/994-5920), a magnificent 1796 Federal-style mansion designed for Harrison Gray Otis by his friend Charles Bulfinch (who 2 years later completed the Massachusetts State House). The tour illuminates the neighborhood’s history as well as the house and its furnishings. Otis was a congressman and mayor of Boston, and Sally Foster Otis appointed their home in grand style. Tours cost $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for students, and are free for Boston residents (open Apr–Nov Wed–Sun 11am–4:30pm, with tours on the half-hour; closed Dec–Mar).
A few blocks away, Nichols House Museum, 55 Mount Vernon St. (tel. 617/227-6993), is also attributed to Charles Bulfinch, but it’s really worth visiting as a window on Boston during the lifetime of its most famous occupant, Rose Standish Nichols (1872–1960), a suffragist, feminist, pacifist, and pioneering landscape designer. Nichols traveled the world, returning home with many of the artworks and artifacts that decorate her house—Flemish tapestries, Italian paintings of the 1700s, French table settings. Tours cost $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 students, free for kids 12 and under (open Apr–Oct Tues–Sat 11am–4pm, Nov–Mar Thurs–Sat 11am–4pm; tours start every hour on the hour).
Historic New England (tel. 617/227-3956) owns and operates the Otis House Museum and dozens of other historic properties throughout New England. Contact the organization for information on its properties, visiting hours, and admission fees.
Exploring Beacon Hill’s Stately Beauty
With its Federalist townhouses and mansions, gaslights and cast-iron fences, and narrow streets, Beacon Hill is dignified and romantic. Charles Street is its main street. Roads with this central a location and tourist flow often capitulate to T-shirt shops and knick-knack stores. Instead, merchants here continue to serve their neighbors as well as visitors, with an appealing collection of bakeries, antiques shops, restaurants, and taverns. Two blocks east of Charles Street, up narrow Mount Vernon Street, is pristine Louisburg Square. The fanciest addresses in Boston’s fanciest neighborhood surround this small private park. Author Louisa May Alcott lived at #10 after the successful publication of her Little Women. One block south of the park is Acorn Street, a lane that feels like a surprise. The smaller homes here face the garden walls of larger properties behind them and once housed tradesmen who serviced the neighborhood’s wealthier clients. Needless to say, that’s no longer the case: The townhouse at #3 Acorn sold in 2016 for $3.7 million. Still, the street continues to be evocative of the past, and is one of the most photographed in the city.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.