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Gibson House Museum February 2, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
Tags: , ,

I recently visited the Gibson House Museum in Boston. This museum is dedicated to telling the story of the Gibson family and providing visitors some insights on life in Back Bay during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Here are three nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the museum.

1. Charles Hammond Gibson, Jr. was the driving force behind the conversion of the Gibson House into a museum. He happened to be a rather obscure poet and travel writer – yet he hoped that critics would properly appreciate his writings after his death. Of course, he needed to combat his obscurity to achieve this end, and so he placed portraits of his famous relatives throughout the house; it turns out that his mother’s great-uncle was Joseph Warren, who fell at Bunker Hill. Unfortunately Gibson’s writings still languish in obscurity due to their abstruseness.

2. The Gibson House was built in 1860 and was one of the first fifteen houses in Back Bay – which consisted of reclaimed land from Boston Harbor. Catherine Hammond Gibson moved there with her son, Charles Hammond Gibson Sr., who was twenty-five at the time. Catherine wanted her son to take ownership of the house after he got married and started a family; that would occur in 1871. Catherine put down roughly $750,000 in today’s money for the house; interestingly, two of the other houses in Back Bay at the time were owned by her relatives.

3. In a sad string of coincidences, three of the Gibson family members died at sea. Catherine’s husband, John Gardner Gibson, perished due to an outbreak of disease on his ship; the family suffered due to the loss of the income that he had derived as a sugar merchant. Another Gibson relative perished when his ship collided with another vessel in a freak accident. A third Gibson relative perished when his troop transport exploded during World War II.

The museum was impressive in that one could view reliable documentation of the items that were in the house during the life of Charles Gibson, Jr. This documentation also enabled the museum staff to provide its visitors with an authentic 1800s Back Bay experience. The tour guide was very informative and his liberal use of witty remarks made the tour enjoyable.

I don’t have any quibbles at this time.

Overall I enjoyed my time at the museum, and I would definitely recommend it to history buffs who happen to be in the Back Bay neighborhood.



1. Susan Ashbrook - February 2, 2012

I am glad that you found one of the lesser known gems of Boston. Thanks for writing so eloquently about it.

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