The kitchen. Photo by John Woolf.
The Gibson House Museum
137 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02116
Two Speciality Tours for Boston Design Week:
Charlie GIbson's Queer Boston
October 7 - SOLD OUT - NEW SESSION ADDED NOVEMBER 4TH
Upstairs Downstairs: Domestic Service at The Gibson House
October 14 SOLD OUT - NEW SESSION ADDED OCTOBER 17TH
Each Tour - Admission: $15; $12 seniors & students (12 people maximum)
Charlie Gibson's Queer Boston
Explore the Gibson House and the gay subculture of early-twentieth-century Boston through Charlie Gibson's eyes. The story of the Museum's founder is one of legacy and family history, of the fading grandeur of Victorian-era Boston, and of Boston's LGBTQ history. Charles Hammond Gibson, Jr., or “Charlie,” as friends called him, was a writer, a preservationist, a gay man, and the last resident of 137 Beacon Street. Thanks to his vision, the Gibson House survives as a museum, opening to the public in 1957. The ways we define same-sex attraction and sexual identity, and the words we use to do so, have changed dramatically over the last 150 years. We have chosen to use modern terms, like "gay" or "queer," to talk about Charlie Gibson and his contemporaries, although these definitions were not yet in regular use.
Charlie grew up during the Victorian era in Boston’s Back Bay, one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. His family’s home, located a block from the Boston Public Garden, was sophisticated and worldly—filled with the finest American furniture, European paintings, and decorative arts from across the globe. Charlie never married nor had a long-term partner. He did, however, stay in close contact with Maurice Talvande (the Count de Mauny), a man with whom he had a romantic relationship while traveling in France in his twenties. Charlie was a prolific writer throughout his life.including two volumes of poetry, including The Wounded Eros (1908), a collection of sonnets which seems to be largely about unfulfilled love.
Delve into the lives of the young, Irish immigrant women who worked in domestic service in the Back Bay. On this tour, we invite you to view the Gibson House from a different perspective. We will start in the back alley and move from the working quarters through the rest of the house. Using census records, domestic advice manuals, and the architecture of the Gibson House, this tour explores the work of these women (and some men) and the community they created. Rarely seen spaces, including the coal shed (the last surviving one in Back Bay) and the fifth-floor servant bedrooms, will be on view.
During its almost 100-year history, the home at 137 Beacon Street housed dozens of employees to the Gibson family. These individuals stayed for a few months or many years, depending on their circumstances. Typically, they did not leave written accounts of their time at the house, so often what we know of them is drawn from vital records and family stories passed down through the generations.
The Gibson House Museum is a private, nonprofit house museum in Boston's historic Back Bay neighborhood. The home served as residence to three generations of Gibson family members and their household staff between 1859 and 1954. The Museum’s four floors of period rooms, including the original kitchen, are a time capsule of domestic life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Visitors experience the house through guided tours that interpret class and culture through the stories and objects of the people who lived and worked there.
The Gibson House Museum "Music Room". Photo by John Woolf. For more information about the museum, please visit www.thegibsonhouse.org.