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Harrison Gray Otis House
Harrison Gray Otis House Review
If the name sounds familiar, it's because a Beacon Hill home bears the same name. This is the first of three houses built for Harrison Gray Otis, Boston's third mayor and a prominent citizen and developer. It's now the headquarters for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA), an organization that owns and maintains dozens of properties throughout the region. The society restored the 1796 house; two of the floors are open as a museum. The furnishings, textiles, wall coverings, and even the interior paint, specially mixed to match old samples, are faithful to the Federal period, circa 1790-1810. You may be surprised to see the bright and vivid colors favored in those days. Otis lived here only four years before moving to more sumptuous digs, designed by Charles Bulfinch, on Beacon Hill. A second-floor room brings to life the home's days as a late-19th-century boardinghouse, and a hallway display describes the "champoo baths" of former resident Mrs. Mott. Thought a quack in her time, she actually promoted the first aromatherapy saunas. From May through October Historic New England, which manages the property, runs the "Magnificent and Modest" walking tour from the house. It highlights the two sides of Beacon Hill, taking visitors past grandious mansions and more modest townhomes. Along the way, you'll pass the African Meeting House, Louisburg Square, and the Boston Common. The $12 price includes admission to the Otis house.
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