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This Day in Boston History
April 14th, 1840
Isabella Stewart Gardner
On this day the
source of some of Boston's greatest urban legends was born in New York
City. Belle Steward married Jack Gardner of Boston when she was nineteen,
and together they moved to Beacon Hill.
Boston society has often been described as unwelcoming to newcomers.
Though Belle Gardner made some friends in society circles, it was her
intellectual acquaintances with the writers and artists of Harvard that
made her company most sought after.
She was a flamboyant social leader, who supported the Symphony, Sox,
horse racing and art. Legends, none quite true, circulated that she:
walked pet lions down Beacon Street, greeted visitors to her museum
from a mimosa tree, laid in the buff on a bear rug in front of her prized
painting Rape of Europe, and cleaned Trinity Church's steps with her
tooth brush to atone for her sins. However, she did make the dowdy Boston
shine brighter in the Victorian age, and continues to enliven the city
through the Isabella Stewart