Even though I told myself I would lay low until I moved back and settled into my construction site in Back Bay in only ten days (!) I couldn’t resist booking a tour through the Beacon Hill Women’s Forum of the historic Nichols House Museum.
The museum, a former private residence, sits at the very tippy top of Beacon Hill.
This isn’t it. It’s just to the right of these homes. Jonathan Mason, the original owner and a well-heeled politician, had these four adjacent homes built for his four daughters.
All were designed by the preeminent architect of the day, Charles Bullfinch.
Now, I know I’ve taken pics of the exterior of the Nichols House Museum, but I can’t find them.
However, I’m pretty sure this beautiful holiday window I took in 2021 is taken from the museum’s exterior.
Oh, wait! I found an image (below) from October 2021. And, yes, that was the side of the museum that faces Mount Vernon Street.
The front of the home is perpendicular to the street. There are a few buildings with this orientation on Beacon Hill. When this home was built in 1805, the flat of Beacon Hill hadn’t been filled in yet, so the Charles River was much closer. This vantage point would’ve given the inhabitants a better view of the river.
Unlike the day this image was taken, it was quite gray when I arrived at the Nichols House Museum today.
The home’s last owner, Rose Standish Nichols, bequeathed the home to become a museum after her passing in 1960.
And, here we are.
There’s more about Rose on the Nichols House Museum website, but briefly, she was a woman perhaps born a century too early. She was highly educated, an artist, writer, notable landscape architect, and suffragette.
Born in 1872, the Nichols family purchased the home in 1885, and Rose lived there until she died in 1960. After she inherited the home in 1930, Rose, who never married or had any heirs, knew from then on that she wanted the home to become a museum.
Thus, she spent much of her life collecting art and antiques.
Rose Nichols is on the right, and the other two women are her sisters.
The rooms in the Nichols house are on the small side. The colors are mostly warm, featuring Rose’s favorite shades of coral. Thus, it was perfect for this chilly, gray day. Above is the front parlor. Over the mantel is a portrait of Rose done in 1929 when Rose was in her late 50s. She hated it because she thought it made her look old.
I was quite entranced with the old oak floors in the home. It looks like they haven’t been refinished in 100 years or more! I’m pretty sure this is a waxed finish. For now, we need to move on. However, I’d like to pick this up, perhaps on Monday, and a few other things as well.
Rose was an avid traveler and acquired this Flemish tapestry on a European trip. This was the room where I was most focused on the floor. It was Rose’s parlor where she entertained her friends. She only served them smoked tea. The lively conversation was their sustenance.
This is Rose’s bedroom. A woman of many talents, she embroidered the canopy herself.
Above is a closer view of the gorgeous fabric.
Back in the day, there were no closets. Or, if there were, they decided that bathrooms were far more desirable. Therefore, this beautiful armoire stored Rose’s clothes.
Not only was she a forward-thinking woman, she had an ensuite bathroom.
Yes, that’s me reflected in the mirror.
Laurel, does Rose’s hardwood floor have a black finish?
It is not black, but it’s a very dark brown in most areas. We’ll pick this up later. But, for now, I’ll say I adore the beaten-up old floors.
The dining room was my favorite room. It’s also the biggest room in the house. Ironically, we were told by our guide that Rose never used it. I believe she dined in the room with the Flemish tapestry.
However, this room, too, has a big, gorgeous tapestry.
The wallcovering has an embossed design.
Do you see that open door on the side of the fireplace?
A view into the butler’s pantry. Although it appears that the Nichols were quite wealthy, they were considered upper middle class. However, I understand they were in the social register. I think the difference is that Rose’s father had to work to support his family. I believe he was a physician.
That’s quite a sink in the pantry!
One last image of the dining room.
Above, a view of a stunning late autumn Japanese Maple
And, one more late autumn view looking down the elegant Mount Vernon Street.
Okay, I’d love to pick this back up on Monday. I’ll answer any questions, plus I have one hilarious image to share.
I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to the historic Nichols House Museum!
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