The Otis House Museum is actually a mansion, the last surviving one, in Bowdoin Square. This West End property was named for Harrison Gray Otis, a Federalist lawyer and politician. There are actually three Harris Gray Otis Houses in Boston, all of which were built by the noted architect Charles Bulfinch. The first, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1796 and was inspired by a William Bingham house from Philadelphia. Owned by the Historic New England organization, this one now operates as a museum.
The house is a look into the lavish lifestyle of Otis and his wife Sally. Otis made his fortune developing Beacon Hill, was a representative in Congress and then later became mayor of Boston. The home’s design is reflective of the Federal style, which Bulfinch introduced to Boston.
Otis House is three stories, in five bays. The entrance seen today was added after 1801, which has a Palladian window above and a lunette above that. The third floor has ceilings that are just over six feet tall. The floor plan of the home is Colonial fashion, which the characteristic two rooms on either side of the central hallway.
The home’s interior showcases many aspects of the Otis’ life, from the social and business aspects to understanding the role servants played in the home. The restoration was meticulous and required a lot of historical and scientific research.
Otis House is open Wednesday through Sunday year-round but is closed on major holidays. There is limited street parking or paid parking lots nearby. Otis House Museum is within walking distance of several MBTA stations.