Ideas

9 top house museums to visit

The world of house museums is wildly diverse and a little hard to pin down. That’s part of their charm. It also makes any comprehensive list impossible. Here’s a totally subjective selection that gives a sense of the range of what a house museum can offer.

janet knott/ globe staff/ file

The Grand

  • The Mount, Lenox

  • Novelist Edith Wharton designed this classical revival house herself, based on the principles she described in her 1897 book “The Decoration of Houses”; it boasts three acres of formal gardens.


The Urban

  • Paul Revere House, Boston

  • Boston’s densest neighborhood also contains the oldest house in downtown Boston, though it has been radically remade since the patriot lived there.

David L. Ryan Globe staff/ file 2008

The Presidential

globe file 2003

The Kid-friendly

  • Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, Newbury

  • This 17th-century manor now fosters farm animals in cooperation with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and offers a variety of hands-on activities.

Historic New England

The Modern

  • Gropius House, Lincoln

  • Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus movement, designed this small but architecturally dramatic house as his family home when he moved to Massachusetts to teach at Harvard in the 1930s.

mark wilson/ globe staff/ file 1999

The Literary

  • Orchard House, Concord

  • Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” at a small “shelf desk” upstairs; the majority of furnishings on display were owned by the Alcott family.

mark wilson/ globe staff/ file 2007

The Technological

tom landers/ globe staff/ file 1998

The Political

  • Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, Adams

  • The great suffragist was born in 1820 in this homestead built by her father. It now displays period textiles and furnishings, as well as memorabilia from her life and career.

The Religious

  • Mary Baker Eddy Historic House, Swampscott

  • There are no fewer than 8 (!) Mary Baker Eddy homes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire; she was renting an apartment in this house in 1866 when she experienced a transformational healing that led to the founding of Christian Science.

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