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

Looking for a good book to curl up with during the winter holidays? Let us suggest "The House of Mirth" or "The Rise of ...
12/22/2020
Events

Looking for a good book to curl up with during the winter holidays? Let us suggest "The House of Mirth" or "The Rise of Silas Lapham." We will consider these books in the context of late 19th and early 20th century Boston during the upcoming meetings of our "Read the Room" book club with Nichols House Museum. Join us! https://www.thegibsonhouse.org/events.html

Upcoming Read-the-Room Book Club Meetings

Help support the Gibson House Museum this holiday season with a small ($21!) donation. Historically, the number 21 has b...
12/17/2020
Give / Membership

Help support the Gibson House Museum this holiday season with a small ($21!) donation. Historically, the number 21 has been symbolic of change, success, and fulfillment- and couldn’t we use some after this year. To celebrate the advent of 2021, please consider a contribution of $21 to our museum before the end of December. Your participation means so much to us. It takes just seconds to complete your donation: https://www.thegibsonhouse.org/give--membership.html

$21 for 2021 Campaign The countdown has begun.... Join us in welcoming 2021! Historically, the number 21 has been symbolic of change, success, and fulfillment. Whether it be the last turn of the...

12/15/2020

We regret that the new City of Boston COVID regulations mean that we must CLOSE for tours until further notice.

This time last year we were excitedly preparing for the opening of the movie "Little Women" on Christmas Day. Many scene...
12/15/2020

This time last year we were excitedly preparing for the opening of the movie "Little Women" on Christmas Day. Many scenes were shot in the museum, but sadly we never were able to take full advantage of the spotlight because of COVID closure a few weeks later. But this fascinating blog post by Professor/Board Member Todd Gernes will tell you things that you probably did not know about the popularity of Alcott's novel at the turn of the last century and its impact on the Gibson family.
http://thegibsonhousemuseum.blogspot.com/2020/12/little-women-clubs-and-boston.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheGibsonHouseMuseum+%28The+Gibson+House+Museum%29

This week is "stay at home because you are well" week. It serves as a reminder to take a break from our hectic routines ...
12/03/2020

This week is "stay at home because you are well" week. It serves as a reminder to take a break from our hectic routines and relax. (Or, in the year of 2020, continue to stay home and find new ways to occupy yourself.) If you are looking for a way to relax, you can try some of the hobbies popular in the 1800s. These included reading, embroidery, playing instruments, and flower pressing. So, relax like a Victorian this holiday season.

Registrants for our upcoming Repeal Day celebration (in one week, next Friday, Dec. 5!) will receive copies of this book...
11/27/2020
Cocktail Hour Meets…A PANDEMIC – Website Coming Soon

Registrants for our upcoming Repeal Day celebration (in one week, next Friday, Dec. 5!) will receive copies of this book, 'Cocktail Hour Meets the Pandemic' by Andy Klausner and Jeremy Cooper. Read about them on their blog.
https://cocktailhourmeets.com/

Posted on November 23, 2020November 23, 2020Cocktail Hour Meets … To be Featured in Upcoming Benefit! Cocktail Hour Meets … A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION⁠⁠Not has only our book been included in this exclusive holiday gift guide, but we have been invited to be guests on a virtual benefit celebratin...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Stay safe.
11/26/2020

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Stay safe.

Today is National Clean Out Your Fridge Day! Now, we are all guilty of neglecting cleaning out our refrigerators from ti...
11/16/2020
The Gibson House Icebox

Today is National Clean Out Your Fridge Day! Now, we are all guilty of neglecting cleaning out our refrigerators from time to time, but refrigerators are a luxury that didn’t exist in the 19th century. Instead, the Gibsons had an icebox, which was invented in 1830 and popular in wealthy and, later, middle class households. The icebox allowed the Gibson family to preserve dairy products and other perishable food by storing ice in the zinc-insulated walls of the icebox in order to keep food cold. Learn more on our blog: http://thegibsonhousemuseum.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-gibson-house-icebox.html

Have you ever thought about what life was like before refrigerators? In 1830, a new invention changed the way Americans handled food: the i...

Need your museum fix this weekend? We are open for tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and each tour is reserved fo...
11/13/2020
thegibsonhouse.org

Need your museum fix this weekend? We are open for tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and each tour is reserved for a single group. Make your reservation on our website! Or, if you'd prefer to tour the house from the comfort of your own home, join us for our virtual architecture tour on Tuesday evening. https://www.thegibsonhouse.org/

a time capsule of domestic life from the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries

11/12/2020

Veterans Day was established in reaction to World War I. Few in the city escaped its effects, including the Gibsons and Gibson House staff. Charles Gibson, Jr. completed military training in Plattsburg, NY but did not serve in the war. Patrick Dooley, an Irish immigrant who was employed by the Gibsons, registered for the draft in 1918; he had become an American citizen just three years earlier. We do not know if he ever saw battle, but his registration is a reminder that American men from all social classes could and did serve in WWI. To learn more about the Gibson household during this period, plan a visit to our outdoor exhibit “1920: The Gibsons’ New Normal.”

Did you vote yet? Here in Boston, polls are open until 8pm. And, if you need some distraction, consider the election of ...
11/03/2020
Power in Suffrage

Did you vote yet? Here in Boston, polls are open until 8pm. And, if you need some distraction, consider the election of 1920 (the topic of our outdoor exhibition and three blog posts on the Museum's blog). Warren Harding won the popular vote by the second-largest margin in American history. And, this was the first presidential election that (white) women were able to vote in, increasing the total popular vote from 18.5 million to 26.8 million.
http://thegibsonhousemuseum.blogspot.com/2020/09/power-in-suffrage.html

This blog post is part of a series about the Gibson family and the lead-up to the 1920 presidential election, which promised "a return to no...

UMass Public History Program
10/22/2020
UMass Public History Program

UMass Public History Program

A pandemic. An election. Political turmoil. This isn’t 2020 — it’s 1920, and The Gibson House Museum is exploring it all in their new outdoor exhibit “1920: The Gibsons’ New Normal.”

In a new post for the History Department’s blog [email protected], curator Meghan Gelardi Holmes and interns Kathrine Esten and Rebecca Simons reflect on remotely preparing this exhibit while asking, “What does it mean to study a tumultuous past when the present is far from stable?”

Read their post here: https://bit.ly/31xrfsg

And be sure to check out the new exhibit, on view outside the museum until December 17: https://bit.ly/2INANci

https://nahanthistory.org/news/calantha-99-birthday?fbclid=IwAR11L1fi-FDsCTHK_f4YFzQxMGba9MnbAbRCkY7Q4-jKjjHYVMhw-HyLWb0...
10/16/2020
Happy 99th Birthday Calantha — Nahant Historical Society

https://nahanthistory.org/news/calantha-99-birthday?fbclid=IwAR11L1fi-FDsCTHK_f4YFzQxMGba9MnbAbRCkY7Q4-jKjjHYVMhw-HyLWb0
Long time friend of the Gibson House Museum, Calantha Sears, turns 99 years old on 17 October. Congratulations and many happy returns! Nahant Historical Society

We invite you to celebrate the 99th birthday of Calantha Sears on October 17, 2020. We will happily pass along your wishes through email or by mail. Send your emails to [email protected] and cards can be sent to the Nahant Historical Society, 41 Valley Road, Nahant. We will make sure she rece

Starting this Saturday, October 17, we will are re-opening for tours for the first time since March, at 1, 2 and 3 pm on...
10/15/2020
Visit

Starting this Saturday, October 17, we will are re-opening for tours for the first time since March, at 1, 2 and 3 pm on weekends. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED (tickets will NOt be sold at the museum)! Tours are limited to 6 people (2 person minimum) in a single household or friend group Book on line at https://www.thegibsonhouse.org/visit.html.

WELCOME BACK! Thank you for considering a visit to the Gibson House. We have missed our visitors and look forward to sharing new paths forward. Please read the guidelines below in preparation for...

Today is Global Hand-Washing Day! In 1875, Boston launched a new sanitation system that was fully functional by 1884. Th...
10/15/2020

Today is Global Hand-Washing Day! In 1875, Boston launched a new sanitation system that was fully functional by 1884. The Boston Main Drainage System was the first sewer system in Boston and was a pivotal moment for public health because it
connected sewers, allowing waste to travel from downtown Boston to the Pumping Station in Dorchester. This investment helped control the spread of water-born diseases and put Boston on the path to modern sanitation practices. The Gibson House was built with indoor plumbing - one of the many reasons the new neighborhood of Back Bay was so appealing to Boston's wealthy elite.

Modern-day Boston is on land traditionally used by Massachusett, Nipmuc, Pawtucket, Mashpee, and Wampanoag communities. ...
10/12/2020
NativeLand.ca

Modern-day Boston is on land traditionally used by Massachusett, Nipmuc, Pawtucket, Mashpee, and Wampanoag communities. Prior to 1857, the Back Bay neighborhood was a tidal estuary; archaeological discoveries suggest that native groups built fishweirs in the bay to catch alewife, smelt, and herring during the spring spawn.
#IndigenousPeoplesDay
https://native-land.ca/

Welcome to Native Land. This is a resource for North Americans (and others) to find out more about local Indigenous territories and languages.

In the fall of 1872, a destructive fire ripped through Boston. Up to 60 million dollars of damage was caused, and famili...
10/09/2020

In the fall of 1872, a destructive fire ripped through Boston. Up to 60 million dollars of damage was caused, and families suffered the loss of homes and loved ones. The fire effectively redesigned downtown Boston. Even the Gibsons were directly impacted by significant financial loss. The brokerage firm run by Charles Gibson was destroyed, temporarily halting an important source of wealth for the family. Something to think about today on Fire Prevention Day.
Image courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society

Welcome to our fall interns! They will be the voices behind Facebook this fall, so say hello and be sure to let us know ...
10/08/2020

Welcome to our fall interns! They will be the voices behind Facebook this fall, so say hello and be sure to let us know if there are any particular objects or stories you want to see featured here.

Hi! My name is Megan Watts and I am so excited to be working on my fall internship at the Gibson House. I am currently getting my graduate degree in History at Simmons University. I will be researching the history of laundry and the domestic workers at the house in preparation for a new specialty tour coming 2021.

Hi, I'm Tessa, a senior at Suffolk University majoring in History with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. My work this fall is supporting the museum's efforts to reinterpret the ground floor by conducting research on the kitchen and pantry.

We invite you to visit our front courtyard for our very first outdoor exhibition, "1920: The Gibsons' New Normal." This ...
09/30/2020

We invite you to visit our front courtyard for our very first outdoor exhibition, "1920: The Gibsons' New Normal." This project was created by our team of summer interns, who worked remotely to bring you the history of the Gibson family and of Boston one hundred years ago. It's all surprisingly familiar! The exhibit is accessible from Beacon Street, day or night, through December 17. Please stop by and enjoy!

The flu epidemic of 1918 has much in common with the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about how it affected Boston, and the...
09/25/2020
Epidemic in the City

The flu epidemic of 1918 has much in common with the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about how it affected Boston, and the Gibson family, in this blog post, the third in our series about the lead-up to the presidential election of 1920. http://thegibsonhousemuseum.blogspot.com/2020/09/epidemic-in-city.html

This blog post is part of a series about the Gibson family and the lead-up to the 1920 presidential election, which promised "a return to no...

This August marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. We wish we could say the Gibson wome...
09/24/2020
Power in Suffrage

This August marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. We wish we could say the Gibson women were on the right side of that history. The second post in our three-part series is all about Back Bay and the fight for women's suffrage.
http://thegibsonhousemuseum.blogspot.com/2020/09/power-in-suffrage.html

This blog post is part of a series about the Gibson family and the lead-up to the 1920 presidential election, which promised "a return to no...

Check out our first post in a three-part series about the Gibson family in the lead-up to the 1920 presidential election...
09/23/2020
Charlie Gibson, Boston, and the War in Europe

Check out our first post in a three-part series about the Gibson family in the lead-up to the 1920 presidential election (one hundred years ago this fall). Stay tuned for our companion outdoor exhibit on view October 1 through December 17 in the front yard of the Gibson House! http://thegibsonhousemuseum.blogspot.com/2020/09/charlie-gibson-boston-and-war-in-europe.html

This blog post is part of a series about the Gibson family and the lead-up to the 1920 presidential election, which promised "a return to no...

Join Gibson House Museum Curator Meghan Gelardi Holmes at the first ever virtual AASLH Annual Meeting. With colleagues f...
09/16/2020

Join Gibson House Museum Curator Meghan Gelardi Holmes at the first ever virtual AASLH Annual Meeting. With colleagues from Historic New England and Wisconsin Historical Society, Meghan will be discussing museum founder, Charlie Gibson, and interpreting LGBTQ stories in historic house museums. Visit https://aaslh.org/2020annualmeeting/ to register today. #AASLH2020

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.

Address

137 Beacon St
Boston, MA
02116

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

Opening Hours

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


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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