Third Harrison Gray Otis House

45 Beacon St Bostonundefined

Bulfinch's Boston/Third Harrison Gray Otis House
City of Boston Arts
Written By City of Boston Arts

The Mayor's Office of Arts + Culture for Boston. We foster the growth of the cultural community in Boston and promote participation in the arts.

The third and largest of the three houses that Charles Bulfinch designed for Harrison Gray Otis, completed in 1806, is at the base of Beacon Hill, overlooking the Boston Common, just steps from the State House. The prestigious location must have suited Otis, a prominent figure in municipal, state, and national politics. After living in three different mansions designed by Bulfinch over the course of ten years, Otis and his family remained here until his death in 1848.

Otis held several positions in government, including Mayor of Boston and US Senator. In 1814-1815, he presided over a series of meetings of the New England Federalist Party in Hartford, CT to discuss grievances against the federal government related to the ongoing War of 1812. The war had the support of President James Madison, a member of the opposing Democratic-Republican party. While Otis did his best to suppress more radical proposals, the meetings included discussions of New England's possible secession from the Union. After the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and America's victory in the war, the Federalist party lost credibility and began its decline, leading to the current system of Democrats and Republicans.

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President James Monroe visited Boston in 1817 during the "era of good feelings," a period when he attempted to unite the country after the war and reduce tensions between political parties. The Otises threw an elaborate party for him at the Beacon Street house, and Boston's Federalist elite were said to have a wonderful time dancing with the Republican president.

Since 1958, the building has served as the headquarters of the American Meteorologic Society. Founded in 1919, the group was originally made up of amateurs and professionals interested in weather but evolved into the top professional organization for the field. Their publications set the stage for rapid advancements in weather prediction and atmospheric science that took place after World War II.

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