William Hickling Prescott House, Boston

William Hickling Prescott House, Boston

William Hickling Prescott House, also known as “Headquarters House”, is a historic house museum located in the left-hand portion of a double townhouse on Beacon Street. Built in 1808, the twin houses were designed by architect Asher Benjamin. Nearly mirror images of one another, they are four stories high and three bays wide.

The left side, 55 Beacon Street is named for William Hickling Prescott, a nearly blind historian, who gained reputation for his books on Spanish (and Spanish colonial) history, and who had lived here from 1845 to 1859. At one point, he had the celebrated novelist William Makepeace Thackeray as a house guest here. That unit was acquired in 1944 by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America for use as its headquarters, a role that it still serves. The Dames restored Prescott's study to its original state in 1968, based on historical documents.

The house's original owner was James Smith Colburn, a successful Boston merchant. He commissioned Asher Benjamin to build the double town houses on the land he purchased from the Mount Vernon Proprietors. Originally, the structures were free-standing and would have had a water view (before the filling of the area that is now the Boston Public Garden). They were the height of fashion in the Early Republic. Prescott purchased his house in 1845 and after his death, his wife sold it to cousins, who made significant changes to the property: updating the stairwell, adding an elevator and reconfiguring Prescott's library into a dining room.

The house was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1964, and was listed on National Register of Historic Places in 1966. One of the two units (possibly both) is memorialized as a Victorian dollhouse at the Cayuga Art Museum in Auburn, New York.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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William Hickling Prescott House on Map

Sight Name: William Hickling Prescott House
Sight Location: Boston, USA (See walking tours in Boston)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Boston, Massachusetts

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