The Gibson House Museum

The Gibson House Museum The Gibson House is a historic house museum located in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. Now a National Historic Landmark, the home served as residence to three generations of Gibson family members and their household staff between 1859 and 1954.

Visitors experience the house through a 45-minute guided tour that interprets class and culture through the stories and objects of the people who lived and worked there. Tours are given on the hour at 1, 2, and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The museum is closed on major holidays. For groups of twelve and more please call for a reservation. Website: thegibsonhouse.org Email: [email protected] Ph: 617-267-6338

Operating as usual

On this day in 1897, the Boston subway opened on Tremont Street. It was the nation's first underground subway. The Gibso...
09/01/2020

On this day in 1897, the Boston subway opened on Tremont Street. It was the nation's first underground subway. The Gibson family, and all of Boston residents, used many different types of transport over the years. In the mid 1800s, public horse-drawn carriages were popular, like this one in Cambridge. Later, electric trolleys, which first ran above ground, were introduced. Wealthy families, like the Gibsons, were able to to afford to hire a private carriage or car. They even did so to transport their belongings to their summer home in Nahant every year. It seems unlikely that they took the subway, even though the Tremont Street stop was close to their home.
(Photos courtesy of the Boston Public Library)

100 years ago today, the U.S. ratified the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. The Gibson women, however, ma...
08/18/2020

100 years ago today, the U.S. ratified the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. The Gibson women, however, may not have celebrated the moment. Mary Ethel Gibson sold roses to support the anti-suffrage movement and suffragists called Beacon Street “enemy’s country” because of the number of residents against the cause. The women who worked for the Gibson family may have disagreed with their employers' views. Laundry workers and other domestic employees marched at many Boston rallies, seen below. Perhaps even the Gibsons’ laundress at the time, Beatrice Hardon, attended these events.

While a historic moment, the 19th amendment did not guarantee that all women could vote. Across the country, white government officials and local residents blocked women of color from voting. They used poll taxes, violence, literacy tests, and other tactics to deny the rights of women of color. Various major laws denied indigenous women’s citizenship and voting rights until 1924, Chinese women’s voting rights until 1943, and Black women’s rights until 1965.

Along with suffrage, 1920 saw several other historic events and movements. Keep an eye out for an upcoming series on the Gibson family in 1920!

Photos courtesy of Artstor and the Boston Globe.

This summer marks 160 years since the Gibson family moved to Beacon Street! Catherine Gibson and her nephew bought plots...
08/13/2020

This summer marks 160 years since the Gibson family moved to Beacon Street! Catherine Gibson and her nephew bought plots of land at 135 and 137 Beacon Street in 1859. Beginning in 1857, just two years earlier, laborers began filling in the tidal basin of the Charles River to create land suitable for building. The photo below shows the area under construction: the Mill Dam cut through the basin in the background, and that path later became Beacon Street. Upper class Bostonians often moved to the new Back Bay area for larger properties and fewer crowds, and to isolate themselves from lower class neighborhoods.

The Gibson home, designed by architect Edward C. Cabot, was completed in 1860 - one of the first to be constructed in the neighborhood. More buildings on the street were built in the following decades. As Gibson family members grew up and moved out of their home, they mostly remained in the Back Bay or on Beacon Street itself. Mary Ethel and Rosamond Gibson are pictured here on their street (circa 1895).

Back Bay photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth.

On National Lighthouse Day today, we are featuring Egg Rock Light. The Gibsons’ spent their summers in Nahant, MA at the...
08/07/2020

On National Lighthouse Day today, we are featuring Egg Rock Light. The Gibsons’ spent their summers in Nahant, MA at their home 40 Steps, which sits on the Eastern coast of the island overlooking a beach with the same name. Several generations of Gibson family members lived at 40 Steps, from Catherine to her grandchildren, each generation caring for the garden at their home, seen in the photo below. Domestic servants working for the Gibsons in Back Bay often accompanied them to Nahant, as was common for other upper class households summering there.

The Gibsons’ likely saw the light from Egg Rock Light from their home, as it was on a small island off the same coast. Although demolished in 1922, the lighthouse was in use the entire time the Gibsons lived in Nahant. The island had a lighthouse tower, a barn, a boathouse, and a home for the lighthouse keeper.

Egg Rock Light photo courtesy of the National Archives and LightHouseFriends.com.

Today is National Parents Day, and we are highlighting the primary set of parents in the history of 137 Beacon Street, R...
07/26/2020

Today is National Parents Day, and we are highlighting the primary set of parents in the history of 137 Beacon Street, Rosamond and Charles Gibson Sr. The couple raised their three children in the home for nearly three decades, while keeping with the typical family dynamic of an upper class white family in late 19th century Boston.

The couple met through their shared social circles in Boston, and married in 1871. The same year, Rosamond moved to the home on Beacon Street where Charles and his mother Catherine lived. Rosamond and Charles raised their three children at 137 Beacon Street: Mary Ethel born in 1873, Charles Jr. in 1874, and “little” Rosamond in 1878. The patriarch of the family, Charles Sr, was a cotton broker and stockbroker. He supported his children financially in their education and travel abroad, and in his daughter’s debuts into Boston society. Rosamond was the caregiver of the family, raising her own children as well as caring for her mother-in-law for nearly 20 years. Both Rosamond and Charles’ parental roles allowed their children to enter Boston upper class society as they themselves had, and for their children to then build their own lives.

For more in depth biographies of each Gibson family member, visit our website here: https://www.thegibsonhouse.org/the-people.html.

Today we are introducing our final intern, as they continue to research and work on a mini-exhibit about the Gibsons in ...
07/24/2020

Today we are introducing our final intern, as they continue to research and work on a mini-exhibit about the Gibsons in 1920.

Hello! I'm Kathrine, and I'm one of three interns with the Gibson House Museum this summer. As a recent UMass Amherst graduate in history and political science, I'm enjoying my research into the First World War and its impact on upper class Bostonians like the Gibson family. An early supporter of the war, Charlie Gibson may not have fought in Europe but he would have witnessed many changes in the city itself. After this internship, I look forward to returning to UMass this fall for an MA in Public Policy and hope to someday work to support our public history institutions!

07/23/2020
Museums to Reopen with New Procedures in Place – Beacon Hill Times

Thinking ahead toward reopening the museum, a story in the Beacon Hill Times: https://beaconhilltimes.com/2020/07/22/museums-to-reopen-with-new-procedures-in-place/

News Museums to Reopen with New Procedures in Place by Dan Murphy • July 22, 2020 • 0 Comments Sebastian Belfanti, director of the West End Museum, said Friday he expected the museum would reopen in the next week or two, but the exact timing hinges on when they can get enough hand sanitizer ...

Today we are continuing to highlight the Gibson House Museum’s summer interns, who are conducting research and creating ...
07/17/2020

Today we are continuing to highlight the Gibson House Museum’s summer interns, who are conducting research and creating a mini-exhibit about the Gibson’s life 100 years ago.

Hi, I'm Rebecca and I'm a senior at UMass Amherst studying history and Spanish. I'm researching the 1918 Influenza epidemic and how it affected the lives of the Gibson family. Like their Beacon Street neighbors, the Gibsons were somewhat isolated from the devastation and chaos brought by the virus. Researching the 1918 Flu pandemic is especially timely due to the current coronavirus pandemic. I'm excited to be involved with and contribute to the Gibson House Museum's projects this summer!

Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting the Gibson House Museum’s three summer interns, who are conducting ...
07/10/2020

Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting the Gibson House Museum’s three summer interns, who are conducting research and creating a mini-exhibit about the Gibson’s life 100 years ago. The period, from 1915 to 1920, has many similarities to events and movements occurring now. We are excited to have them at the Gibson House (remotely)!

Hi, I’m Betsey and I am excited to be researching with the Gibson House this summer! I am a senior at Smith College, studying American history and museum studies. I am researching the suffrage movement in Boston, and how the Gibson family may have interacted with it. This is especially relevant because women’s suffrage celebrates 100 years this year! While the privileged Beacon Street was a hub for anti-suffragists during this time, the Gibson family’s immigrant employees likely supported suffrage. I hope to research further the experiences of working class women and women of color in Boston who pushed for suffrage.

Enjoy the 4th and stay safe!
07/04/2020

Enjoy the 4th and stay safe!

It would be interesting to know what the Gibson family thought about this monument.
07/01/2020
Boston Art Commission Votes To Remove Emancipation Monument – WONDERLAND

It would be interesting to know what the Gibson family thought about this monument.

ArtJune 30, 2020 Greg Cook 0The Boston Art Commission voted unanimously tonight to remove the controversial Emancipation monument in Boston’s Park Square, which depicts President Abraham Lincoln standing over a crouching Black man newly liberated from slavery. The vote followed two nights of onlin...

06/19/2020

*Holding Ourselves Accountable*

We join with the NIchols House Museum to state firmly and unequivocally that the Gibson and Nichols House Museums condemn systemic racism and police violence. We stand in solidarity with the protestors and activists who are expressing our collective grief and righteous anger over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and so many more. Their lives mattered and all Black Lives Matter.

Historic house museums are a place for engaging with new ideas and connecting our own stories to larger narratives that stretch backwards in time. History is an essential tool to make sense of these complicated, many-layered narratives and put our present-day experiences in context.

However, historic house museums have long excluded certain stories from the history we tell. Black communities and individuals are one of the groups too often underrepresented or misrepresented in our spaces. Museums are not neutral and white privilege has long shaped our institutions.

There is real work to be done. We must further reflect on our complacency and educate ourselves, we must put inclusive history at the center of our museums, and we must ensure our institutions are welcoming spaces for everyone in our community. Along with our staff and boards, we also encourage all members of our museums and communities to join us in this work.

We promise to work harder and do better and we are here to listen to you as we do so. Please feel free to reach out to us. Museums are only as strong as the communities they serve.

Thank you ArtStuffMatters for reminding us that #MuseumsAreNotNeutral.

Thank you to our staff and communities for holding us accountable in this work.

Thank you protestors and activists who continually shed light on these injustices.

National Trust for Historic Preservation
06/19/2020

National Trust for Historic Preservation

“Although Confederate monuments are sometimes designated as historic, and while many were erected more than a century ago, the National Trust supports their removal from our public spaces when they continue to serve the purposes for which many were built—to glorify, promote, and reinforce white supremacy, overtly or implicitly.

While some have suggested that removal may result in erasing history, we believe that removal may be necessary to achieve the greater good of ensuring racial justice and equality. And their history needs not end with their removal: we support relocation of these monuments to museums or other places where they may be preserved so that their history as elements of Jim Crow and racial injustice can be recognized and interpreted.”

Read our full Statement on Confederate Monuments: http://ow.ly/JMUD50AbAuR

We congratulate Carl Nold, retiring Historic New England president and CEO, for winning the 2020 Codman Lifetime Achieve...
06/17/2020

We congratulate Carl Nold, retiring Historic New England president and CEO, for winning the 2020 Codman Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Boston Preservation Alliance. Here is Carl at our 2010 Benefit where he was the honoree, along with Ted Stebbins, Emeritus Curator of American Art, Harvard Art Museums. Also pictured are former Gibson House president Lecia Harbison and former Executive Director Charles Swift. We will miss you, Carl, always a good friend to the Gibson House!

We are delighted to announce that we have received a $2,500 award for operating expenses from the Mass Humanities CARES ...
06/16/2020

We are delighted to announce that we have received a $2,500 award for operating expenses from the Mass Humanities CARES Act. Funding from Mass Humanities has been provided through the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

Thank you Boston Sun for your story about our recent grants. https://thebostonsun.com/2020/06/10/gibson-house-museum-rec...
06/12/2020
Gibson House Museum Receives Preservation, Interpretation Grants – The Boston Sun

Thank you Boston Sun for your story about our recent grants. https://thebostonsun.com/2020/06/10/gibson-house-museum-receives-preservation-interpretation-grants/

News Gibson House Museum Receives Preservation, Interpretation Grants by The Boston Sun Staff • June 10, 2020 • 0 Comments The Gibson House Museum has been awarded preservation and interpretation grants from the George B. Henderson Foundation, the City of Boston’s Community Preservation Fu...

Our Booklist for Pride Month
06/12/2020
Our Booklist for Pride Month

Our Booklist for Pride Month

Written by Corinne Muller. Missing Boston's Pride Parade this year? Us too. Here are our recommendations of great reading material on LGBTQ+ history and places in New England to celebrate the month of June instead. Image: The History Project

June is Pride Month and the Gibson House had many plans to celebrate it but of course we cannot with the pandemic. Here ...
06/09/2020
Tracing Queer History in Boston

June is Pride Month and the Gibson House had many plans to celebrate it but of course we cannot with the pandemic. Here is a Boston Preservation Alliance article that we posted last year.
https://www.bostonpreservation.org/news-item/tracing-queer-history-boston

The architecture of a community goes far beyond buildings. As Pride month draws to a close, we’re spotlighting some of the historical places in and around Boston that comprise this city’s rich and vibrant LGBTQ culture. From bars to churches, from libraries to law firms, the importance of physic...

Thank you once again, Carlos Soto Chaves and the Garden Club of the Back Bay, for creating beautiful seasonal urns to br...
06/02/2020

Thank you once again, Carlos Soto Chaves and the Garden Club of the Back Bay, for creating beautiful seasonal urns to brighten our front door even while we must be closed to visitors.

05/21/2020

The Gibson House Museum has been awarded Community Preservation Act &
Mass Humanities Grants! Stay tuned for more details.

Happy International Museums Day! We look forward to welcoming you back to the Gibson House soon.
05/18/2020

Happy International Museums Day! We look forward to welcoming you back to the Gibson House soon.

Thank you everyone who bought raffle tickets and who tuned into yesterday's Instagram Live Stream drawing. Thank you too...
05/15/2020

Thank you everyone who bought raffle tickets and who tuned into yesterday's Instagram Live Stream drawing. Thank you too to MC Etiquetteer Robert Dimmick and Museum Assistant Barbara Callahan for making it happen.

The origin of Mothers' Day was the 1872 Mothers' Day of Peace, initiated by Julia Ward Howe to commemorate mothers who h...
05/11/2020

The origin of Mothers' Day was the 1872 Mothers' Day of Peace, initiated by Julia Ward Howe to commemorate mothers who had lost sons in the Civil War. Howe became a neighbor of the Gibsons when she moved in 1879 to 241 Beacon Street, two blocks west of 137. This photograph is by Sarah Choate Sears.

Happy Mother's Day from the Gibson House Museum. This is Rosamond Warren Gibson with her three children, little Rosamond...
05/10/2020

Happy Mother's Day from the Gibson House Museum. This is Rosamond Warren Gibson with her three children, little Rosamond, Mary Ethel and Charlie.

05/05/2020

Only one week left to buy tickets to our fabulous Raffle (drawing Live on Instagram, May 14, 4.30).

Fun idea!
05/03/2020

Fun idea!

Is walking around your neighborhood getting old? Spice it up by joining our Neighborhood Walk Architecture Scavenger Hunt. Spot interesting architectural features and submit your photos of them to us. Do you know what a quoin is? A bracketed cornice? You’ll be able to recognize these architectural details and more after you take this walk. Boston Society for Architecture

https://bostonbyfoot.org/neighborhood-walk-architecture-scavenger-hunt

Address

137 Beacon St
Boston, MA
02116

The nearest subway stop is Arlington Street on the Green Line.

Opening Hours

Wednesday 13:00 - 16:00
Thursday 13:00 - 16:00
Friday 13:00 - 16:00
Saturday 13:00 - 16:00
Sunday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(617) 267-6338

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Tours are given on the hour at 1, 2, and 3 p.m.. Wednesday through Sunday. The museum is closed on major holidays. For groups of twelve and more please call for a reservation. 617-267-6338 or email [email protected] website: www.thegibsonhouse.org


Comments

BOSTON FUN FACT FRIDAY GIBSON HOUSE - BOSTON Boston architect Edward Clarke Cabot designed the Italian Renaissance style Gibson House. Located at 137 Beacon Street, in 2001 the residence was awarded a National Historic Landmark distinction. A tribute to the fact that the Victorian era row house’s exterior architecture and interior layout have remained true to their original blueprint. Stately in appearance, the red brick and brownstone exterior is topped with a sloped slate roof. Inside the home visitors receive a glimpse of Boston’s once golden age. Interior highlights include: a walnut wood crafted staircase, mahogany furniture, Japanese wallpaper, imported carpets, paintings and sculptures. Decorative room schemes are personalized with selected family furnishings. In 1859, newly widowed Catherine Hammond Gibson purchased a Back Bay lot for her son, Charles Sr. Her desire was to relocate her family to a quieter part of the city, a further distance from the hustle and bustle of Beacon Hill. The Gibson House was completed in 1860, and marked the second lot built on within (former swampland) the newly developed Bay neighborhood. Regarded as one of the city’s most affluent families, the Gibson’s paid $3,000 to have their new home built. Three generations of the family resided at the estate from 1860 to 1954. The Gibson House & Museum celebrates the family’s legacy and fondness for Boston. Charles Gibson, Jr. long believed his family’s stories and possessions needed to be preserved and shared with all. He wanted the Boston opulence which filled his family’s estate to continue to be a part of the community. Through the efforts of Charles, Jr., the Gibson House is forever safeguarded as a place for the public to enjoy, and a piece of Boston history. Bob Cushing