This is another one of those places I had never heard of before doing research for this blog even though I had passed by it multiple times.
The Otis House is on Cambridge Street in Boston’s West End (near Mass. General Hospital). Designed by Bulfinch (who designed the State House, etc.), the house was built in 1797 for the super duper wealthy family of Harrison Gray Otis (the third mayor of Boston). To put it in perspective – most people in Boston at the time were living in houses that were only as wide as the Otis’ foyer. Sooo…yeah, they had some money. The family actually only lived in the building for a few years before moving to an even larger mansion on Mt. Vernon Street (which is still a private residence), and then a few years later moved to an even LARGER mansion on Beacon Street which is now home to the American Meteorological Society.
After the family left, the original home was used as a clinic and a boarding house for the middle and upper class before being bought and renovated by Historic New England in the Federal Style as it would have been when the Otis family lived there. Through research, recreations of the paint, wallpaper, and carpet patterns were installed. Some original Otis family furniture as well as that of Sally Foster Otis’ family is exhibited.
The house is open Wednesday through Sunday year round and the tours begin every half hour between 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM. It is located at 141 Cambridge Street (take the Red Line to Charles/MGH, Blue Line to Bowdoin during the week, or Green/Orange/Blue to Government Center). Tours take about 45 minutes.
Tours are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for students
But the best part is they’re FREE for Boston residents – just show your license as proof of address.
Since it’s free, I’d recommend this tour to any Boston resident! If you’re not one of the cool kids, I’d recommend it only if you’re particularly interested in late 18th/early 19th century architecture and culture.
Photography isn’t allowed inside the museum, so check out this photographic tour from Historic New England.