History of the Nichols House Museum
The Nichols House Museum occupies one of four connected townhouses constructed in 1804 for Jonathan Mason, successful businessman, real estate developer, and Massachusetts state senator. Historians suggest Mason built the townhouses to the east of his own mansion for his four daughters and their families. The houses' designs have been attributed to Charles Bulfinch by his biographer, Harold Kirker. Located at 55 Mount Vernon Street, the Nichols House is a fine example of a four-story Federal Period brick townhouse. The service wing (rear ell) and wood shed survive as rare examples of a mid-nineteenth century service area.
During the first quarter of the nineteenth century Jonathan Mason's daughter Elizabeth Mason Parker and her husband Samuel occupied the house. One of her descendents owned the property until 1885 when it became the home of Dr. Arthur Nichols and his wife Elizabeth. Their daughter Rose Standish Nichols, noted landscape designer, author and one of the founders of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, became the sole heir of the property after her parents' deaths. Miss Nichols owned and cared for the house from 1934 until her death in 1960. She bequeathed her estate as a memorial to her parents. As specified in her will, the Nichols House has been open to the public as a museum since 1961. The house is a contributing resource to the Beacon Hill Historic District, listed in 1966 as a National Historical Landmark.