Think of traditional life in Boston, and there’s a good chance the townhouses, brick sidewalks and quaint gas-lit streets of Beacon Hill spring to mind. This cozy neighborhood features a captivating mix of grand homes and fashionable shops. Within a few blocks, you’ll find breathtaking examples of Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian architecture—all commingled in historic harmony. Beacon Hill contains a South Slope, a North Slope and a Flat of the Hill. Charles Street is the neighborhood's most famous street, known for its wonderful antique shops—more than 40—and Cambridge Street offers good restaurants.
BEACON HILL SITES OF INTEREST
Part of The Freedom Trail
Built in 1798, the "new" State House is located across from the Boston Common on the top of Beacon Hill. The land was once owned by Massachusetts first elected governor, John Hancock. Charles Bullfinch, the leading architect of the day, designed the building.
Louisburg Square is one of the loveliest parts of Beacon Hill. The homes around Louisburg Square were built in the 1840s and were to serve as a model for townhouse development. A number of celebrated Americans have made their home here. Charles Bulfinch, architect of the nearby State House lived here, as well as John Singleton Copley, a famous American painter. Author Louisa May Alcott made her home at Number 10. More recent residents include Jack Welch and former presidential hopeful John Kerry.
The African Meeting House is the oldest in America and the start of the 1.6 mile (2.5 km) Black Heritage Trail. The trail connects to 14 historic sites. Guided walking tours are offered by the National Park Service daily, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, and other times by special request.
Club of Odd Volumes | 77 Mount Vernon Street, Phone: 617-227-7003
Located in a lovely Federal Style townhouse nearing the top of Beacon Hill, the club is full of old engravings, busts of Dante and Lincoln, leather bound books and a jumble of charming early 19th century furniture. A wonderful undisturbed pool of old Boston, the Club of Odd Volumes was founded in 1887 "to "promote literary and artistic tastes, the exhibition of books and social relations among [its] members," and so it remains. While the club is private and the membership small, it's not so difficult to attend an exhibition here and get a taste of the place.
The Museum of African American History, located at the African Meeting House and adjacent to the Abiel Smith School, is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving and interpreting the contributions of African Americans. In Boston and Nantucket, the Museum has preserved four historic sites and two Black Heritage Trails that tell the story of organized black communities from the Colonial Period through the 19th century.
Nichols House Museum | 55 Mount Vernon Street, Phone: 617-227-6993
The Nichols House Museum's mission is to preserve and interpret the 1804 townhouse where Rose Standish Nichols, landscape gardener, suffragist and pacifist lived from 1885 until 1960. The house was built by Jonathan Mason and is attributed to Charles Bulfinch. The museum educates visitors by providing a unique glimpse into the domestic life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries on Beacon Hill.