Saturdays, April 20 and May 18, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm – The Art of Entertaining

A House Museum Alliance of Downtown Boston Focus Tour will take place at the Otis House, Nichols House, and Gibson House on Saturday, April 20 and Saturday, May 18, with tours at 1, 2 and 3 pm.  Each tour will take approximately 40 minutes, and admission is $5 at each museum.  Children under 12 free.  Three Boston house museums will draw on their rich collections to illuminate a variety of amusements in 18th, 19th, and 20th century Boston.

Teas, dinners, musical entertainment and dances were all part of daily life for Boston’s elite in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For the hosts, entertaining was not just a way to spend time, it was also a way to impress, and to make important social, business and political connections. Learn how Boston mayor Harrison Gray Otis and his endearing wife Sally charmed and entertained guests at their home, including some of their harshest critics.  Tour the public rooms of the Otis House Museum, 141 Cambridge Street in Boston, and explore the splendor and entertaining traditions of the federal era that helped make the Otises one of the most prominent and popular couples in Boston.

For Rose Standish Nichols, the best form of entertainment was interesting conversation. At her famous salon-style afternoon tea parties at 55 Mount Vernon Street, she hosted artists, intellectuals, writers, politicians, religious leaders, and other accomplished individuals for discussions about current events, the arts, and philosophy. Rose Nichols continued the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Beacon Hill tradition of women promoting social causes through gatherings in their homes. Come to the Nichols House, 55 Mount Vernon Street, to learn of the fascinating ways women on Beacon Hill, including Rose Nichols, used their homes as gathering places for discussion and activism. After the tour, guests will be able to taste the strong Hu-kwa tea Rose famously served at her tea parties!

Be charmed by the Gibson family traditions. Learn about the different types of tea gatherings – simple tea and formal tea. At each of these tea ceremonies, the most important aspect was the appearance of the tea table. A well-equipped table was typically adorned with fine china, gleaming silver, and flowers. Tea time was the most fashionable part of the day for women. A formal tea often took place when one wished to invite eighteen to twenty guests but did not want to undertake the trouble or expense of dinner. Drinking tea became more popular as the Victorian era progressed.  Learn more about the Gibson family and the very important social event of tea time. The Gibson House is located at 137 Beacon Street.