Second Otis House, 85 Mount Vernon Street
In 1799 when the cutting of the streets on the South Slope began, the Mount Vernon Proprietors envisioned large plots of land with freestanding mansion houses surrounded by formal gardens and stables. The proprietors were expected to build their own mansions on Mount Vernon Street.
This is the second house that Charles Bulfinch built for the Otises in 1801. It is one of the few original mansion houses in Boston that remains freestanding. It was larger than the Otises’ first house to accommodate their growing family and their growing wealth. This house was built to set a precedent for Beacon Hill.
This is the epitome of high Federal style: balance, order, and symmetry with classical motifs. The pilasters are believed to have been requested by Mr. Otis while the house was under construction and may not be part of the original Bulfinch design. The original entrance was on the left side of the house, but it was moved to the right by a subsequent owner. Those owners also moved their Greek Revival entrance from their old house and attached it here. Down the cobblestone drive you can see the original Otis stables that have now been converted into residences. The house is still a single family residence. The Otises moved to their third home on Beacon Street in 1806.