From Our Editors
Five Things to Know About Gibson House Museum
Built in 1860, the Gibson House Museum was originally the home of a sea merchant’s widow, her son, and his family. Since 1957, the Italian Renaissance–style building has served as a time capsule of Victorian-era life on the Back Bay, with a large percentage of the Gibson family’s original furnishings still intact and on display. Before you pay a visit, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- The only way to see it is on a tour. Guided walk-throughs are available Wednesday through Sunday in the afternoon; they start on the hour. Group tours are available by special appointment.
- There’s a lot to see. You’ll work your way through four abundantly decorated floors, coming across family photos, silver, paintings, original furniture, sculptures, and other heirlooms and curios in the kitchen, scullery, butler’s pantry, bedrooms, library, and, ahem, water closets.
- Check out the servants’ area. Just as on Downton Abbey, the real heart of the home is the servants’ area on the ground floor. You’ll see the original coal shed used for heating the building, a cast-iron stove, a dumbwaiter that brought meals upstairs, and a mechanical call-bell system that the Gibsons used to summon their servants.
- There’s no elevator. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs.
- The house occasionally hosts special events. One of the most fun is an annual celebration of the anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal.