Otis House

Changes Over Time

The Beacon Hill of today offers little insight into its original habitat and dimensions. As portrayed in this nineteenth century romanticized painting by Samuel Lancaster Gerry, the peninsula was called Shawmut (the place of living fountains) by its Indigenous Native American inhabitants, and later described by early English settlers as “a mountain with three little hills rising on top of it” (or the Tri-mountain). As the predominant topographical feature of Boston’s early landscape, the hills known as Pemberton, Mt. Vernon, and the central summit, Beacon, offered a panoramic view of the harbor and surrounding countryside.