The Shirley-Eustis House

The Shirley-Eustis House English country estate. Site of human enslavement. Symbol of the British Empire. Tours are available year-round by appointment.
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Built in 1747, Royal Governor William Shirley's Georgian mansion is one of the only remaining country houses in America built by a British Royal Colonial Governor. The home later belonged to William Eustis, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was the site of the 1824 fete for the Marquis de Lafayette. During our summer season (Memorial Day-Columbus Day) we also offer guided tours of

the historic home Thursdays through Sundays from 1-4 pm. Additional parking is available behind the Ralph Waldo Emerson School (now Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter school) directly across from Shirley Place.

The news is out!The Shirley-Eustis House has closed on the purchase of 42-44 Shirley Street. This building is remarkable...
09/01/2023

The news is out!

The Shirley-Eustis House has closed on the purchase of 42-44 Shirley Street. This building is remarkable because it was an original outbuilding of Shirley Place. It was built as both a stable for Governor Shirley's collection of fine horses and, in the upper floor, housing for the enslaved men who cared for the horses. This would have included grooms, stableboys, footmen, and others.

While the building has changed significantly over the years, much of its interior framing, plaster, and lathe are original to the 18th century. The property's front yard also contains many archeological features and artifacts that have yet to be unearthed.

We're pleased to have saved the building from demolition with the help of a Community Preservation Act from the City of Boston. But the work doesn't end there - soon, we're launching a larger fundraising campaign to pay off the remaining $450,000 on our purchase and renovate the building into exhibits and gathering space for community members. Learn more about this expansive project on our website: https://shirleyeustishouse.squarespace.com/the-42-44-shirley-project

And be sure to read Tiana Woodard's great article on our purchase of 42-44 Shirley Street in the Boston Globe here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/09/01/metro/roxbury-shirley-eustis-house/

Collections highlight!One of the first objects visitors notice when entering the Shirley-Eustis House's Great Hall is ou...
08/23/2023

Collections highlight!

One of the first objects visitors notice when entering the Shirley-Eustis House's Great Hall is our magnificent chandelier. It dates back to the early Federal period and may even be made of Waterford crystal, a radiant glassware famously produced in the town of the same name in Ireland.

Before it became part of our collections, it purportedly hung in a building at St. John's College at Oxford University. Then it crossed the Atlantic to dazzle in the stately home of the Whittington family, located in Virginia. It was purchased by the Shirley-Eustis House Association at auction in 1985 thanks to a generous donation. Just last fall, thanks to a grant from the Society of Colonial Wars, we were able to have the chandelier deep-cleaned for the first time since its purchase. Now it holds battery-powered electric candles and provides a glittering, glowy ambiance to our tours and events.

(Bonus: check out the video clips on this post over on our Instagram using the link below for two different perspectives on raising/lowering the chandelier. While one person turns the crank in our attic to slowly raise or lower the fixture, another stays on the first floor to ensure it stops at the perfect height! https://www.instagram.com/p/CwTM_csO5pO/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==)

Thanks to Accidentally Wes Anderson for featuring us in the "stories" section of your website and in your e-newsletter! ...
08/19/2023

Thanks to Accidentally Wes Anderson for featuring us in the "stories" section of your website and in your e-newsletter!

For our followers: Accidentally Wes Anderson is an online community for fans of acclaimed director Wes Anderson, quirky places, architecture, or people who just love learning the stories of unique buildings and locations. Check out their profile of the Shirley-Eustis House below, and be sure to explore the other locations featured on their website!

Accidentally Wes Anderson Boston's Restored Relic History Lesson

We are happy and grateful to announce that The Shirley-Eustis House has been selected as the recipient of this year's Di...
08/07/2023

We are happy and grateful to announce that The Shirley-Eustis House has been selected as the recipient of this year's Dine Out Boston charitable proceeds! Thanks to Meet Boston for selecting us and to the staff at Old North Church for nominating us for this opportunity.

Dine Out Boston is a yearly program that offers discounted prix fixe meals to folks who want to try out new restaurants or simply enjoy an old favorite. If you'd rather get takeout, you can still participate in the online auction! Find out more about the program at the link below.

Dine out Boston runs until August 19, and the online auction until August 23.

Learn More: https://www.meetboston.com/event/dine-out-boston/76625/

If you've toured Shirley Place, chances are you've had an encounter with this woman. Her portrait hangs to the left of G...
08/03/2023

If you've toured Shirley Place, chances are you've had an encounter with this woman. Her portrait hangs to the left of Governor Shirley's in our Great Hall.

Her name is Deborah Lyde Brinley. Her husband was Francis Brinley, an English government official and colonial landowner. The Brinleys constructed a Georgian estate called Datchet House in 1729 in the area of Dorchester's Mission Hill neighborhood - it has since been demolished. The last photo is an image taken right before it was torn down in 1903.

Mrs. Brinley's portrait, painted by John Smibert, exemplifies the ideals of English beauty in the 17th and 18th centuries. An English book called "The Dictionary of Love" outlined the most valued characteristics: a plump face, long hair, pale and unblemished skin, youthful appearance, and dimpled chin. Among the English, these characteristics made you a catch on the marriage market. But of course, your net worth was perhaps a more important consideration. Deborah herself was an heiress.

Beauty standards would evolve and diversify with time. But in her era, Deborah Brinley was considered quite lovely. And, indeed, wealthy, as well.

Our plants and pollinators are loving this heat, humidity, and rain! Our non-AC equipped historic house... not so much. ...
07/26/2023

Our plants and pollinators are loving this heat, humidity, and rain! Our non-AC equipped historic house... not so much.

For up-to-date opening and closing information, be sure to check our website homepage at www.shirleyeustishouse.org ! We recently added a calendar there which shows our upcoming public tours and events. Check it out to learn what's happening at Shirley Place! It will also be updated in the event of high temperatures - for the safety of our staff and visitors, Shirley Place will be closed when temperatures reach 90°+.

Many thanks to everyone who joined us for this year's Holiday Party! We had a fantastic time seeing friends old and new,...
12/15/2022

Many thanks to everyone who joined us for this year's Holiday Party! We had a fantastic time seeing friends old and new, sharing food and beverages, and getting into the holiday spirit.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Shirley-Eustis House.

11/23/2022

The Shirley-Eustis House will be closed Thursday 11/24 and Friday 11/25 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. We hope everyone has a safe and restful time with friends and family.

Free for lunch?Join us next Thursday, November 10 at 12pm for "Male Physicians, Female Practitioners: Early 19th Century...
11/04/2022

Free for lunch?

Join us next Thursday, November 10 at 12pm for "Male Physicians, Female Practitioners: Early 19th Century Medicine," a brown bag lecture co-hosted with the Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library, Harvard Medical School and The Society of the Cincinnati.

Historian Olivia Weisser (Associate Professor, UMass Boston) will examine the professionalization of medicine in the early nineteenth century, when medicine was less a unified field and more a loose link between the disparate--and sometimes conflicting--practices of surgeons, apothecaries, physicians, and midwives. Professor Weisser will also discuss how traditional midwives were gradually forced out of their role in childbirth in this era, often with deadly results.

This hybrid lecture will be hosted both in-person at the Shirley-Eustis House and on Zoom. In-person attendees have the option to buy a lunch through SEHA or bring their own. Get tickets here:

How did people in the early 19th century think about health? When did the use of at-home herbs give way to the modern scientific process?

On November 2 each year, Día de los Mu***os (The Day of the Dead) is celebrated in Mexican culture. This holiday honors ...
11/02/2022

On November 2 each year, Día de los Mu***os (The Day of the Dead) is celebrated in Mexican culture. This holiday honors and remembers those who have died with gifts, flowers, and stories about their lives.

The image below, an elegant female skeleton known as La Catrina, has come to symbolize Día de los Mu***os. First introduced as an image in 1910, La Catrina's roots go back even further to the Aztec "Lady of the Dead," Mictecacihuatl. The combination of Aztec traditions with Christian Hallowtide observances formed today's Día de los Mu***os and also resulted in the creation of La Catrina. Her first iteration in 1910, printed by Jose Guadalupe Posada, satirized native Mexicans who shunned their traditional culture for European dress and mannerisms, including wearing makeup on their faces to appear more white. "La Calavera Garbancera," or "the elegant skull," was a phrase used to describe such people, and was also the first name for La Catrina. Her image reminds us that no matter your background or wealth in life, death is a certainty for all.

(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons. For further reading, check out "La Catrina: Mexico's Grande Dame of Death" at SFGate https://www.sfgate.com/mexico/mexicomix/article/La-Catrina-Mexico-s-grande-dame-of-death-2318009.php)

A warm welcome to fall (and goodbye to our gorgeous leaves).
10/27/2022

A warm welcome to fall (and goodbye to our gorgeous leaves).

The Shirley-Eustis House will be closed on Thursday 9/22 for a private event. We will reopen for tours and visitation on...
09/21/2022

The Shirley-Eustis House will be closed on Thursday 9/22 for a private event. We will reopen for tours and visitation on Friday 9/23.

Join us on September 24 at 1pm for Chamber Music at Shirley Place! Musicians Mark Kroll and Carol Lieberman will be play...
09/08/2022

Join us on September 24 at 1pm for Chamber Music at Shirley Place! Musicians Mark Kroll and Carol Lieberman will be playing popular songs from the Federal Era on our restored 1825 pianoforte, hearkening back to Governor and Madam Eustis’ time at Shirley Place. Selections include Bach, Mozart, and Moscheles, as well as American composer James Hewitt. You won’t want to miss this event at the intersection of history and music. Get tickets here: https://chambermusicatshirleyplace.eventbrite.com

We are growing! Thank you to Mass Humanities for an award of $20,000 Staffing the Humanities Grant. We are using our gra...
07/28/2022

We are growing! Thank you to Mass Humanities for an award of $20,000 Staffing the Humanities Grant. We are using our grant to add Rachel Hoyle (MA, UMass Boston) to our team. As our new Programming Coordinator, Rachel will help us expand our audience and reveal the many ways the history of Shirley Place helps us understand the world we live in today. Email Rachel to schedule your tour of Shirley Place: [email protected]. And visit www.masshumanities.org to learn more about Mass Humanities excellent grant programs.

Dear Diary,Today the kids from Boston Explorers helped us find the items missing from the Governor's fruit bowl. We were...
04/20/2022

Dear Diary,
Today the kids from Boston Explorers helped us find the items missing from the Governor's fruit bowl. We were so happy about it that everyone got to sign a proclamation. It turns out that finding the fruit was easier than mastering the quill pens.

You think you've heard every take there is on early American history, but with Tamsen George's new biography of William ...
04/17/2022

You think you've heard every take there is on early American history, but with Tamsen George's new biography of William Eustis, there is yet more insight to be had. Join us Saturday, April 23 at 11am IN PERSON in the Carriage House where Ms. George will share her insights into the man and the events. Drawing extensively from Eustis's correspondence, Ms. George provides an insider's view of some of the most momentous events in the founding of the United States.

This event is free, but seating is limited. Please registervia eventbrige by using the link below or by calling 617-442-2275. www.eventbrite.com/e/book-talk-and-signing-for-allegiance-the-life-and-times-of-william-eustis-registration-318915554007

The Shirley-Eustis House Association thanks the residents of Boston for your support this past year in our amazing journ...
12/21/2021

The Shirley-Eustis House Association thanks the residents of Boston for your support this past year in our amazing journey of preservation, self-discovery and sharing an ever more inclusive history of Shirley Place and and its role in the American story. We're currently wrapping up the year with our Annual Appeal. If you can make a gift, small or large, visit our website www.shirleyeustishouse.org. If you'd like to learn about our story, email us to schedule a tour: [email protected].

We wish everyone peaceful holidays and a healthy, prosperous New Year.

Wreath courtesy of Dahlia's Garden, 722 Dudley Street, Roxbury.

The Shirley-Eustis House was featured on Channel 5's CityLine show this past weekend. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond discuss...
12/06/2021

The Shirley-Eustis House was featured on Channel 5's CityLine show this past weekend. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond discussed the new research on the enslaved people that would have lived and worked in the mansion at Shirley Place and in the former outbuilding at 42-44 Shirley Street. There is so much yet to learn, but what we know is so compelling.

Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Spaces.

10/05/2021
Shirley-Eustis Place is now a City of Boston Landmark. Thank you to  the Boston Landmarks Commission, Mayor Kim Janey's ...
08/24/2021

Shirley-Eustis Place is now a City of Boston Landmark. Thank you to the Boston Landmarks Commission, Mayor Kim Janey's office, Representative Liz Miranda's office the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and the neighbors, members and friends who supported our petition.

In assembling the documentary materials for our landmark appliation we received invaluable assistance from Harvard student Aabid Allibhai, who has begun to uncover the untold history of slavery at Shirley Place. And in order to better understand the architectural history of the site, Boston Landmarks Commission issued a study report which included the old outbuilding at 42-44 Shirley Street. The information contained in these reports provides the tools to begin telling a more complete story of eighteenth century life at Shirley Place. We can now to recognize and honor the lives of the enslaved people--Jack and Jane, Thomas Scipio, Affy, Caesar, Hannah, and others yet to be discovered-- who made the gentility and beauty of His Excellency the Royal Governor's country residence possible. They, along with thousands of other enslaved people in New England, were an integral tool in the success of the colonial enterprise both before and after the American Revolution.

Thank you to the many people who commented in support of our petition for City of Boston landmark status at the Boston L...
07/31/2021

Thank you to the many people who commented in support of our petition for City of Boston landmark status at the Boston Landmarks Commission hearing on Tuesday, July 27. There are still a few hoops to jump through, including review by the Mayor's office and City Council, but we're hopeful, and Tuesday's meeting showed that people in Roxbury and beyond understand the importance of preserving the complex and compelling history that lives here. You can read or download the study report prepared by the Landmarks Commission here:https://content.boston.gov/sites/default/files/file/2021/07/272.21%20Shirley-Eustis%20Place%20Study%20Report_Final%20Amended.pdf

Thanks to everyone who donated to our May Preservation Month fundraiser. Your gifts totaled over $2,500 and helps us kee...
06/23/2021

Thanks to everyone who donated to our May Preservation Month fundraiser. Your gifts totaled over $2,500 and helps us keep the Carriage House and Mansion at Shirley Place looking trim.

Happy Juneteenth to all. The Public Domain Review has a wonderful photo essay of early celebrations of the holiday in Te...
06/19/2021

Happy Juneteenth to all. The Public Domain Review has a wonderful photo essay of early celebrations of the holiday in Texas, where it originated. Check it out here: https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/juneteenth-photographs

Historical photographs of early Juneteenth celebrations throughout its home state of Texas and across the country.

A downy woodpecker foraged among the pear trees at the Shirley-Eustis House this morning. Maybe the warm sunshine brough...
03/08/2021

A downy woodpecker foraged among the pear trees at the Shirley-Eustis House this morning. Maybe the warm sunshine brought some bugs out from hibernation?

The Shirley-Eustis House seen from the folly on the west lawn. We wish everyone a safe and serene holiday.
12/25/2020

The Shirley-Eustis House seen from the folly on the west lawn. We wish everyone a safe and serene holiday.

03/14/2020

Special Announcement: In order to assist the Commonwealth's efforts to contain Covid-19 the buildings and grounds of Shirley Place will be closed to tours through at least April 24th. All scheduled events and programs have been cancelled or postponed until that time. Please check our website for updates.

Exciting day for SEHA! It just released its first major publication....the reissue of the late eminent historian John A....
02/20/2020

Exciting day for SEHA! It just released its first major publication....the reissue of the late eminent historian John A. Schutz's William Shirley, King's Governor of Massachusetts. The beautiful 420 page Expanded Edition of the classic 1961 biography includes new material by the late author and contributions by historians Robert J. Allison, the late William Pencak and Michael H. Gorn. A Book Launch event is scheduled for sometime in September at the Mansion.

Exciting news! SEHA has acquired Gilbert Stuart's portrait of William Eustis. Deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum o...
11/04/2019

Exciting news! SEHA has acquired Gilbert Stuart's portrait of William Eustis. Deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the painting was purchased on October 8th at an auction conducted by William Doyle Galleries, Inc. of New York. The Association is thrilled that it was able to seize a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring the portrait back to Boston and to the Roxbury mansion William and Caroline Eustis once owned. An official unveiling will take place in the spring of 2020.

Thank you Members HistoryAtPlay/Judith Kalaora and J.Archer O'Reilly III for donating your talent to SEHA this past Sund...
10/01/2019

Thank you Members HistoryAtPlay/Judith Kalaora and J.Archer O'Reilly III for donating your talent to SEHA this past Sunday! Judith's performance of Deborah Sampson is not to be missed. The event was made even more special by the play's opening introduction by General Henry Knox. Photo credit: Matthew A. Dickey. For more information about HistoryAtPlay visit www.HistoryAtPlay.com or call 617.752.2859

Thank you Tufts FOCUS program for including SEHA on your community service projects list! This past Saturday first year ...
08/27/2019

Thank you Tufts FOCUS program for including SEHA on your community service projects list! This past Saturday first year incoming students Cecilia Adams, Christina Beane, Nancy Healy, Marwah Kiani, Jeremy Newman, Jack Robinson, Lilah Silverman and Sabrina Wen, led by Upperclassman Emma Tombaugh, helped with our never ending landscaping chores. Following their volunteer work they were treated to a private tour of the Mansion.

Our summer tour season ended on a special note this afternoon as we welcomed San Francisco resident Jaima Dwyer back to ...
08/25/2019

Our summer tour season ended on a special note this afternoon as we welcomed San Francisco resident Jaima Dwyer back to Shirley Street. Jaima lived next door to the Mansion as a child and was very happy to finally have the chance to visit. We hope you come back again soon Jaima!

Last chance for a Saturday afternoon tour! Our 2019 summer schedule ends on August 24th. Visit the Mansion at 1:00, 2:00...
08/22/2019

Last chance for a Saturday afternoon tour! Our 2019 summer schedule ends on August 24th. Visit the Mansion at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 p,m. Be sure to stroll our beautiful grounds and orchard before or afterwards.

Our summer of Saturday afternoon tours will soon be over. Visit August 17th or August 24th at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.
08/17/2019

Our summer of Saturday afternoon tours will soon be over. Visit August 17th or August 24th at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.

Come explore the Mansion. Beautiful Georgian and Federalist features abound. Tours every Saturday through August 24th at...
08/02/2019

Come explore the Mansion. Beautiful Georgian and Federalist features abound. Tours every Saturday through August 24th at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. Free for SEHA members and Blue Star families. All others $5 to $8. Photo credit: Tina Rodocker.

Some fun scenes from yesterday's Shirley Place Historic Landscape Lecture & Tour...Master Gardener Mary Lou O'Connor and...
07/30/2019

Some fun scenes from yesterday's Shirley Place Historic Landscape Lecture & Tour...Master Gardener Mary Lou O'Connor and some of our guests, Floral Artist Estela Rosario with her beautiful creations, our gorgeous gardens and cupcakes! Thank you all who helped and participated. Photo credits Frederic C. Detwiller and Tina Rodocker.

Join us for the Shirley Place Historic Landscape Lecture and Tour this coming Sunday, July 28th at 2:00 p.m. Optional Ma...
07/23/2019

Join us for the Shirley Place Historic Landscape Lecture and Tour this coming Sunday, July 28th at 2:00 p.m. Optional Mansion tour 12:45 to 1:30 p.m.

Our Master Gardeners and floral designer have been very busy preparing for our July 28th Historic Landscape Lecture and ...
07/11/2019

Our Master Gardeners and floral designer have been very busy preparing for our July 28th Historic Landscape Lecture and Tour. They want everything to look perfect for the special event. Thank you Mary Lou, Marian, Amy, Dyan, Althea and Estela. Madam Eustis would be so pleased!!

Wishing our members and friends a very Happy Fourth of July. No tours this coming Saturday but Shirley Place will once a...
07/04/2019

Wishing our members and friends a very Happy Fourth of July. No tours this coming Saturday but Shirley Place will once again be open to visitors on July 13th at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 p.m.

07/01/2019
It was gardening galore at Shirley Place today. While MA Master Gardeners Mary Lou, Althea and Dyan heavily pruned our l...
06/27/2019

It was gardening galore at Shirley Place today. While MA Master Gardeners Mary Lou, Althea and Dyan heavily pruned our lilacs, a team of six from the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department Community Works Program cleared our ivy beds of massive amounts of weeds. Thank you all!

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33 Shirley Street
Boston, MA
02119

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Our Story

A National Historic Landmark, the Mansion was erected in 1747 by William Shirley. Designed by “America’s first Architect”/ Father of American Palladianism, Peter Harrison, it is an architectural treasure. American Architecture vol. 1 1607-1860 notes was it considered to be the finest New England House for the late 1740’s and the “most purely Palladian House in America”. It was remodelled several times between the late 1700’s and 1820. Fully restored to c. 1820 in 1985, “Shirley Place” might best be described as a quintessential Georgian beauty wearing the best of Federal attire designed by Charles Bulfinch.

The only remaining house in America originally built by a British Royal Colonial Governor it has had many owners, including William Eustis, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. William and his wife Caroline Langdon returned the estate to the level of social prominence enjoyed during the Shirley era. In 1824 it was the site of a fete for the Marquis de Lafayette. Tours are available year-round by appointment. Admission is free for SEHA Members, $8 for adults; $5 for students, seniors (65+) and residents of Roxbury and Dorchester. We are a Blue Star Museum. Additional parking is available behind the Ralph Waldo Emerson School (now Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter school) directly across from Shirley Place.