***Please note at the end of this post is an important deadline***
Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Boston. It was about 40 degrees or so with no wind, so cool for sure, but warm enough to go without gloves for extended periods of time, if outside.
The skies were not overcast, but not terribly clear, either. And so, I ventured out of my apartment to take y’all on a little late afternoon into evening Christmas tour. It begins in my Back Bay neighborhood but focuses on historic Beacon Hill and some of its famous attractions.
All, except three of these photos are mine; however, as I love to do, I am also featuring three of my favorite Instagram accounts that have taken some extraordinary photos I think you’ll enjoy.
One reason for this is that the snow is all gone. Well… ummm… 99% of the snow. But, it is not the fluffy magical stuff we all adore looking at. Nosiree.
Newer readers may not know the term “snirt.”
Snirt is what happens to the snow that gets piled up along the side of the streets and sometimes on sidewalks. I mean, they have to clear the roads and sidewalks, and they have to put the snow somewhere. To learn more about snirt, please go to one of my favorite holiday posts that will explain in crystal clear detail everything you’ve ever wanted to know about snirt.
In fact, I’ll point out a snirt alert later on.
Why am I posting photos of dirty snow?
I’m posting dirty snow because life is usually beautiful, but sometimes it isn’t easy.
The snirt is a metaphor for life, the good and the bad.
And, this year has certainly given all of us a healthy dose of “snirt.”
Remember last year at this time?
People were saying things like: “Ohhhhh, so looking forward to 2020. A new decade. A round number. A fresh start. So much to look forward to.”
Little did any of us know that we were on a winding, slippery mountain road without a guard rail, about to hit head-on with a 16-wheeler whose driver had fallen asleep.
If we had known, I daresay we would’ve gotten back in bed and pulled the covers over our head until 2021.
But, we didn’t know, and we still don’t. So, when people say, “I can’t wait until 2021,” I get a little worried. I mean, next year could be worse. We don’t know.
Yes, these are scary times. I wish that some people had been more scared early on, but I think many were in denial.
My message for this, my final blog post for 2020, is to be grateful for each day and be kind to one another.
Oh, I could go on, but I’m not going to. Haha. Self-editing is not easy either.
Back to the topic of magical Christmas Lights.
I was going to title this post:
Woman Gets Arrested for window peeping in Beacon Hill.
But, then, I was afraid you would think it was me, and of course, you’d be right. haha
Actually, I did check on this. It is perfectly legal to take a photo of someone’s residence as long as you are not on their property when you take the image, nor are you using it for any nefarious purpose. Believe me. I keep my distance. That’s what the zoom feature on the camera is for!
In addition, I was not the only one out snapping pics yesterday. People who live inside a storybook fantasy expect tourists to take photos of their homes.
So please come join me for my late afternoon/early evening stroll through part of Boston’s Back Bay and Beacon Hill to see the beautiful homes, done up for the holidays. Decorations around here are as elegant as the homes they are adorning.
I’ve been thinking of doing a little history post. But for now, I’ll leave it that all of Back Bay and the “flat of Beacon Hill” were both built on reclaimed land, thus narrowing the “back bay” into the Charles River.
Below is a map of the area.
Okay, my house is just below the C where it says Commonwealth Ave. Mall. The locals say Comm Ave. This will give you an idea of where I was. I went up as far as Cambridge Street via Charles Street and then back down in the area of Pinckney and Mount Vernon Streets.
But, raise your hand if the late afternoon, sunset time, twilight, also known as l’heur bleu (blue hour), is your favorite time of day!
Well, it is mine.
Let’s head out.
I started my walk, heading by going east on Marlborough Street. Below are some of my favorite houses and their Christmas lights and decorations.
Four years ago, I featured this exquisite home in Boston’s Back Bay in this Christmas holiday post.
I never could’ve imagined at that time that I’d be living a stone’s throw away. I guess they call that foreshadowing. lol
So many beautifully decorated homes in Boston.
For some reason, I turned around and saw the sun as it was getting ready to drop below the horizon.
If I had continued going straight on Marlborough, I would’ve hit the public garden, but when I came to an end, I turned left onto Arlington and then headed east again on Beacon Street.
Snirt Alert on the corner of Beacon and Arlington
Here are some of the elegant townhouses that line Beacon Street.
Beacon street along the public garden and Boston common make up the southern border of Beacon Hill.
I didn’t know until recently that the show Cheers was based on a real bar in Boston. But, here it is, on Beacon Street.
I head up the popular and charming shopping area, Charles Street in Beacon Hill. Everything to the west of Charles Street is known as the “flat of the hill.” That’s because it’s flat at that point.
Earlier yesterday, my real estate lawyer called me up and told me to check out the sailboat, and deer all lit up in the river. So, that’s what I did. I walked to the end of Charles. I turned to go west and went across a footbridge adjacent to the Longfellow Bridge that connects Boston with Cambridge.
Only, I was walking towards the esplanade, which is a little park and footpath along the Charles River.
Alas, I was about 30 minutes too early to get a good image of the lights, but I did get a gorgeous view of the back bay skyscrapers that live behind my house.
The tallest building with the distinctive blue glass is the John Hancock tower. I literally live in its shadow.
This image was taken today from my den. But, you have to be on top of the window to see the tower.
Below is what my lawyer wanted me to see.
While it’s difficult to make out the lights, I was treated to two swans mooning me. I waited until they had finished. :]
After that, I turned around to walk back into the heart of Beacon Hill.
Louisburg Square. I was interested in an apartment for rent in the building on the left. However, my realtor told me to stay away from that one. So, I did.
Still, Louisburg Square is one of the poshest addresses in all of Boston. In fact, Senator John Kerry and his wife Theresa live on Louisburg Square. I believe their home is in the far northeast corner of the square, not a square but a long rectangle.
Here’s the map again. Louisburg Square is between Mount Vernon and Pinckney Streets. And, believe me, all of them are glorious. The following shots were all on those streets.
A classic Georgian-style townhouse on Louisburg Square in Beacon Hill.
Another Beacon Hill beauty at sunset in December. Gaslights abound in the historic neighborhoods in Boston.
They wouldn’t dream of putting up a monstrosity like this that met my forehead in the summer of 2018.
Yes, it’s a hill.
This is my favorite house on Louisburg Square. I think it’s only because of that gorgeous transom window. It’s the little things, sometimes.
I wish that mirror through the window came out better. It is stunning!!!
Oh, stop looking at me like that. I am not lurking in the bushes.
Haha, I was standing close to the street. I mean, they have no window coverings. And, I know good and well that everyone reading this blog LOVES to be able to see inside these magnificent homes and also would take a peep. I mean PEEK. ;]
Man, check out the Greek Key detail on that ceiling. Hey, they are just doing their part to make America more beautiful and sharing it with the rest of us.
Okay, I needed my GPS for our next stop, but on my way caught sight of this twilight beauty with glowing lights.
And, now I’m going to take you to the most photographed street in Boston.
It’s so tiny that at first, in the dark, I walked right past it.
And yes, that is real cobblestone. And, no. I have no idea how a moving van gets in there. I don’t think the people who live here move-in OR out. Lol, Obviously, they’re born here. And, then their kids who are also born here, take over and never leave, either. That must be it.
Via @town_builders Acorn Street Beacon Hill during the early December 2020 snowfall.
Please note that there were still some leaves on the trees at that time about three weeks ago. But no wonder it’s the most photographed street. It absolutely reaks of Disneylandesque charm.
@ @Glitterinclexi, who posted these iconic red doors with an exquisite transom. This door reminds me of a similar door in Beacon Hill I took last fall.
Coincidentally, I snapped this door yesterday as well, before I happened on the image. And, I only just realized that it’s the same door.
I’m not showing more of the door because I was across the street and there was a car in the way.
Above was taken in the snow from last January by one of my fave instagrammers who I’ve featured before. @brianmcw. You can see another image or two of his in this Christmas post from four years ago.
Please check out and follow the above Instagram accounts. Oh, and please follow me too.
And, one more shot of the Commonwealth Avenue mall holiday lights. I understand that they stay up all winter.
Okay, that concludes our holiday evening lights tour.
***But, here’s the important business I mentioned at the top of this post.***
Tomorrow at 11:59 PM is the deadline to get your FREE 150 Best Home Furnishings Sources on Etsy, AND a FREE 333 Rules and Tips You Need to Know Guide is ending at the end of December 30, 2020, If you purchase any of the other guides. (below) Following is a snippet about each one and a link that will give you more information, if needed.
(Clicking on the links will send you to the pages to learn more about each guide)
Laurel’s Rolodex – A unique shopping guide that shares hundreds of my favorite sources and especially for decorators and designers tells you the best sources that sell directly to the design trade.
The Essential Paint Color and Palette Collection (two volumes)
This is a must-have guide for anyone struggling with paint colors. If you don’t believe me, there are dozens of testimonials on the Palette Collection page.
Six-Figure Income Blogger. (This should be required reading for everyone who has a website and wishes to get the most out of it for their business) You do not need to be a heavy-duty blogger. But, once or twice a month consistently will do wonders for your business. But, it would be best if you learned some other things, as well. Believe me, when I say in the early years, I made every mistake and then some.
333 Decorating Rules & Tips You Need to Know – You’ll get a free Etsy guide with this guide, as well. There is so much information, and much I’ve never seen anywhere else. The window treatment glossary alone is several pages.
Or, order the Etsy guide on its own. It’s 150 seriously cool vendors.
Etsy is known for exceedingly helpful, personable vendors and great pricing.
Note: Some prices will be going up on January 1st, and all free offers will end on December 30, 2020.
Also, please check out the newly updated HOT SALES pages. Some wonderful end-of-the-year sales are going on right now.
Well, guys, that’s a wrap for 2020.
Here’s wishing all of us a safe, HEALTHY, and prosperous year in 2021 full of love from family and friends. And, I pray by this time next year in 2021, we’ll have gotten a handle on this virus.
Laurel, I was also wondering the same as Rosemary, as I did not get a separate email re the free Etsy guide? Thank you!
The promo code to get the free Etsy guide was sent out in early December. But, I’ll do it again, tomorrow. Or, rather later today, after I get some rest.
Lovely pictures! Warms your heart. Happy New Year Lauren! Hope 2021 will be a better year!
Thank you for sharing these gorgeous photos. My daughter attended Berklee College of Music (2018 grad) and we enjoyed so many awesome trips to Boston from San Diego. Your tour down all the streets brought back so many memories, as she lived at one point on Commonwealth and also closer to Boylston. winter truly is the most fabulous photo time in the back bay, but I can’t wait to see your photos during the spring and fall! Congrats on the new home, you picked the best place ever to live!
Happy New Year to all!! My friend in Missouri is predicting a Packer-Chief Super Bowl. (I live in Wisconsin) I have been enjoying my Furlow Gatewood book I gave myself for Christmas. You know that television network dream home? It seems like it gets worse every year. The walls are painted hideous colors and there is virtually nothing in the home. And it is always thematic is some way. Furlow would not approve. Happy New Year everyone!!
Your photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing. You brightened my day! Now this west coaster wants to visit your beautiful city. I can relate to all of the difficulties in moving and happy you’re finally settled!
I lived in Boston for several years before moving for a job. Your beautiful photos made me smile and remember those snowy walks I took on those same streets. Feeling more than a little nostalgic and homesick for wonderful Boston!
Do check out Russo’s market right across the Charles in Watertown for gorgeous flowers, cheeses, produce, and fresh pastas, as well as Wilson Farm in Lexington (one of my favorite fall outings!)
Sophia’s Greek Pantry in Watertown is a tiny little store you might never think of going, but they have the most luxurious house made Greek yogurt that’s the consistency of clouds mixed with whipped cream and made by angels, I’m sure of it.
Pizza in Boston? Try them all, and decide yourself which is best! And here’s looking forward to the day when you’ll be able to enjoy a free symphony performance followed by a drink in the bar of a swanky hotel like I used to do. Lunch in the atrium at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston as a break during the fabulous exhibits! Summer on the Cape! I could go on and on…
The people in Boston are solid and the best neighbors I’ve ever had or ever will have. I hope yours are as lovely as mine were.
Enjoy exploring, and please seek out the little hole-in-the-wall joints as surely as the swanky ones (high tea in the gorgeous Boston Public Library, please!) Congratulations on your new home in your new city, and I look forward to reading your adventures!
Thank you so much for this great comment, Sherri. I keep all of this kind of information in my online notepad.
I felt like I was walking the streets ohing and awhing over Boston’s beauties with you. I’ve lived my whole life just outside the city and have spent many happy days in it. Thanks for a walk down memory lane on the most charming of streets!
Wishing you an abundance of happiness here in 2021!
Thank you Laurel for always sharing so much joy and beauty. Very happy for your new home, your new town and this New Year! Hoping it brings you many blessings.
Thank you for the exquisite tour of Boston – I felt like I had on my heavy coat and muffler and was along with you for the walk! On a business trip to Boston many years ago I visited the Cheers bar, as I’m sure nearly every visitor to Boston does. I was so disappointed to see that the inside looked nothing like the set of the Cheers TV show, but I stayed for a glass of cheer anyway!! Happy New Year Laurel – hope you are very happy in your new home.
Grew up in the Boston suburbs, raised our family, then in November 2019 rented an apartment in the Back Bay. We had 4 glorious months of exploring beautiful Boston before Covid hit. Still in the burbs, still rent the apartment and can’t wait for this pandemic to be over. The Beacon Hill garden club has a most wonderful tour in May annually which highlights beautiful gardens and homes on the hill. Of course it was cancelled last year but hopefully will be back this spring. Back Bay Garden club has also hosted some great tours over the years as well. Welcome to Boston!
A faiytale post,Laurel! I can smell the cold icy crisp of the snow,and gaze(peep) right along with you.Such a beautiful area.All good things really do come to those who wait.
I did come across an interesting article titled First Light ,pg.76,in my December/January House Beautiful.Designer Jae Joo used ” a soft palette( and a sledge hammer)” to her inlaws’ 1885 rowhouse in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood! She also wanted to redo keeping historical restorations in place. So many great ideas! At any rate,worth perusing and maybe finding a kindred spirit for quirky problem solving,local design resources,great Food and fun “surprises” at every turn.
Happy New Year,I can’t wait to follow your vision for your wonderful new home!
That was just gorgeous…. thank you!
Thank you so much for these photos Laurel. Twenty years ago we came very close to buying one of the houses in your photos of Acorn St. It was tiny, but utterly charming inside and out, like living in a doll’s house. We quickly realized though that between parking issues and the tourists who swarm that street, it was not for us. We wound up buying up the coast in Marblehead…another great place for you to visit that’s full of historic homes. We did spend a lot of time in that neighborhood though and your post brought back some wonderful memories. PS If you haven’t already done so, once it’s possible again, I heartily recommend the Boston by Foot tours. It’s a voluntary organization of locals that runs free wonderful walking tours all around the city. In the meantime, the group is offering fabulous VIRTUAL events on their website bostonbyfoot.org!
In graduate school at MIT, my husband used to live in an apartment in the building you’ve tagged as the “twilight beauty with glowing lights” – they passed the apartment down to fraternity brothers as years passed. I think it has since been reconverted to a single residence.
Welcome to Boston! I Love love love Back Bay and especially Beacon Hill – if I could live anywhere, that would be it! Enjoy…I’m living vicariously here 🙂
Hello Laurel, I’m glad that the move went well and that you have enough energy right afterward to go exploring!
There is a certain awkwardness in taking pictures of strangers’ houses, but I have never had anyone get mad at me, and have gotten into some interesting conversations with the owners. Actually, when you introduce yourself your professional admiration should please the owners quite a bit.
All that beautiful neoclassical architecture AND an IM Pei building? I think I’m more than a little jealous, Laurel. Thanks for the lovely photos and for inspiring all of us to grab happiness, even when it’s a little scary. Best wishes for a much, much better new year.
This is lovely. What a beautiful neighborhood.
If we ever consider moving, this would definitely be an area high on my list. Thank you for sharing.
Happy New Year Laurel!! I love reading about your exciting move— since I have been staying home 99% of the time, I have been living vicariously through your search for a new home. It makes me very happy to see the exciting turn your life has taken!! I wish you much happiness in Boston. Thank you for being a bright spot in this sad year
Beautiful photos Laurel. I went to Boston with 3 girlfriends about 4 years ago in late November and I remember all the wonderfully decorated homes. It was such a fun trip and a great city to visit even at that time of year. I hope you enjoy your new home for many, many years and I wish for you to have wonderful neighbors; that makes all the difference. 2021 has to be better, it may just take some time.
I’m so happy for you! So happy that your success has allowed you to find and buy your dream home closer to your son. Your home and the area are beautiful. I can’t wait to see how lovely your home will be. Congratulations!
Welcome to Boston
Charles Street is great for Antique s
Just wear your Mask
Such a lovely area Laurel,
I too love the blue hour it makes everything look more beautiful.
I see lots of little friends for Joe 😉😉 in some of those windows you photographed
Happier New Year!
So wonderful! Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy 2021!
A question about purchase-
I would like to purchase one of your products as a GIFT.
Worried I’m going to mess it up since it’s a download.
Should I just put thei recipient’s email into the purchase form and then my other info for the financial end?
Thank you Laurel for the tour of your beautiful new city! Like you, it is a delight!! What a wonderful time of the year to be transplanted there. Best Wishes and Many Blessings in your wonderful new home. Happy, Healthy New Year. Best, Sheila
I grew up about an hour away from Boston, then lived in Cambridge and worked in downtown Boston for a few years in my mid-twenties. It’s where I met my husband! My uncle built the giant pickle barrel that used to be in Faneuil Hall. I don’t think it’s there anymore, though. Lots of wonderful memories of a great city. I’m so happy for you!
Family recently sold 87 Beacon, near Cheers. The bar was the Bull and Finch Pub which put up Cheers signs for the show. The inside looked nothing like the set, it’s basically for tourists now. Maybe next year you can ride the Holly Trolley. In the Spring you can take a window box tour. 87 had many awards in its day 🥰
It’s so odd, seeing Boston again, after having moved way 10 years ago…I looked at the map, and remembered what I’d forgotten—that the streets perpendicular to Comm Ave are alphabetical, starting with Arlington. It was fun to remember that. 🙂
There are so many things that are “must see” there! You MUST make several walking trips through the South End (where I lived for 13 years)—just start walking down Arlington or Berkeley—and work your way down to Washington or a block or two farther, and meander down all the little side streets. You’ll find some delightful surprises as you walk—and yes, there’s some prime brownstone window gazing available in the evening. 🙂
I used to work in downtown Boston—and would walk the four miles or so from my South End apartment everyday—to and from work, trying to go a different route everyday—and I’d find things like THIS incredible (and surprising!) home: https://gregcookland.com/wonderland/2020/05/10/9-dwight-boston/
There is, of course, also lots of artsy goodness in the South End. 🙂
And where you are, you’re close to Winston Flowers—they used to have two shops near you, but I think only the Newbury St one is still there: best florist I’ve ever been to. EVER. You can get sweet peas there in the spring…lily of the valley in May…leonidas roses in the fall…you’ve just moved: you DESERVE Winston Flowers in your home, to celebrate. 🙂
There’s also the Mass Horticultural Society Garden Show, in March—now smaller than it used to be, and held out at Elmbank—but it’s the perfect place to renew yourself after a long winter of snirt. 😉
And of course, in May, July and September, you will want to head out to Brimfield, for the world’s largest flea market—everything from junk to museum quality antiques to replicas.
Other awesome resources for gorgeous plants for your new home include Comptons Greenhouse, in Little Peckham, RI (finest selection of houseplants I’ve ever seen—including Winston’s—and VERY affordable—I used to go every month and fill my car with plants!)—and A&P Orchids, in Swansea, MA—they have several greenhouses full of highest quality orchids at prices MUCH better than you’d pay for at a standard greenhouse or florist. They specialize in Paphs—but have greenhouses full of phals and dendrobiums, and a wonderful variety of other types of orchids, as well—and they’re happy to advise you on what to buy if you’re not a seasoned grower. 🙂
You’re also quite close to a couple of ballroom studios, if you want to take up some dancing again—and the last time I was there, there was a thriving ballroom, swing and Latin scene. At one point, I was dancing 20 hours a week, between very 4 hours of very inexpensive lessons at MIT, on Sunday afternoons (there would be as much as 100 people of all ages who would show up to dance—a great way to meet folks!); private lessons at Fred Astaire’s of Newberry St; Monday night swing at Johnny D’s in Cambridge, Saturday nights at Wonderland Ballroom and Wednesdays at BU’S open ballroom dance lessons, and monthly swing dances are various locations…obviously not in a pandemic…but might be something to look into in the future….
Yeah—you’re gonna have SO much fun there!!!! :).
Beautiful pictures and great comments. Sounds like your are enjoying your new home city. It is beautiful. Loved the pic of Acorn Street, picturesque with or without snow. You wondered how they got a moving van down there – my thought, after seeing the cobblestones and sloping, uneven brick sidewalk was “How do they walk there”?
I was impressed by the classic and restrained holiday decorations on these lovely homes. (Glad to hear they leave the light on the trees through the winter, looks like a fairy-land). I was also impressed by all the shiny clean window panes – they certainly keep the window washers fully employed!
Thank you for sharing this holiday treat. I look forward to your future postings. Have a safe and healthy 2021 enjoying you new home.
Welcome to Boston Laurel! I know you will love living here. The scale of the city makes it so approachable. I never cease to reflect on how beautiful the city is as I drive along Storrow Drive. I hope you are meeting some people. Covid has really put a dent into everyone’s social plans.
Beautiful, just beautiful….
Laurel, you’re the only person who makes me laugh!! I mean that in a good way. Thank you so much. I love your commentaries. Happy New Year
It’s just wonderful that you moved to Boston at the most picturesque time of the year! Thanks for sharing your photos of all these lovely homes.
The timing of your tour is perfect. I heard on NPR this morning that today (12/29) is Ted Danson’s birthday! Cheers! Thank you for the beautiful post.
How do I get the free Etsy catalogue
Oh so charming, Laurel! I bet you’re pinching yourself that you really get to live in such a fairytale! You already feel so much at home – moving to Boston was meant to be for you. I’m sending you my best wishes for a long and happy life in your new home!
My grandfather lived on Pinckney for 30 years, before decamping to NYC in 1912…some fascinating folk lived in that neighborhood in that era, as do more today.
I moved to Lincoln in ‘76, but still make regular visits to those old haunts in town.