Otis House

William Nell House, 3 Smith Court

Three Smith Court on the North Slope of Beacon Hill is one of the very few remaining properties with its original wooden structures.

This house was built in 1799 by two white bricklayers as a double family farm house with a common entrance. It was the only house here at the time, so it is much larger than the rest. Note the similarities in architecture to Otis House. This was a more modest version of a Federal house, built of wood and sided with clapboards, rather than the high-style brick of the Otis House.  Beginning in the late 1820s this house became rental property for black residents. William C. Nell boarded here from 1851-1865.  He was America’s first published black historian, a community activist, and a leader in the struggle to integrate Boston’s public schools before the Civil War.

Most of what was built here was multifamily housing that was built either as income-producing property for the wealthy or owner-occupied rental property.