|Harrison Gray Otis'
Anomaly on Beacon Hill
Harrison Gray Otis' mansion
at 85 Mt. Vernon is the last remaining freestanding residence in the area,
an artifact of Charles Bulfinch's design for Beacon Hill. Its lofty facade
is amplified by the garden setting, a rare reminder of Beacon Hill's rural
In the Federalist style, the home is symmetrical, uses smooth faced brick,
and incorporates classical elements such as the broken entablature over
floor three supported by corinthian pilasters. The triple hung windows framed
by blind arches establish floor one as the piano nobile, with each succeeding
floor diminished. Emphasized key stones above the central windows on the
third floor gives life to the building's center.
The balustrade breaks the roofline, and completes the framing of the home
with the pilasters running down the sides. The top of the house, particularly
the balustrade and octagonal cupola, brings an expansive feel to what might
otherwise seem to be a more finite or "squared" structure.