Special to Times
For the first time, the William Hickling Prescott House has fully opened its doors to the public, partnering with local tour company, Hub Town Tours, to offer tours of the early 19th century home throughout the summer.
The Prescott House serves as the headquarters for the Massachusetts chapter of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America: a group of women with ancestral ties to important events of the colonial period that work to preserve and promote the nation’s heritage. The NSCDA-MA have two other properties in Massachusetts—the Quincy Homestead and the Martin House Farm—but the William Hickling Prescott House’s location right next to Boston Common at 55 Beacon St. makes it one of the most impressive homes to have been preserved in the neighborhood.
“The Colonial Dames of Massachusetts are delighted to be partnering with Hub Town Tours on tours of the William Hickling Prescott House as well as their new Beacon Hill tour,” Susan
Bennett, the Historic Preservation Manager for the NSCDA-MA, said in a press release. “Hub Town Tours is well known for its historically grounded – and popular – tours of the Freedom Trail and we are pleased that they are bringing their expertise to this new collaboration.”
Hub Town Tours has, in fact, become a popular option for tourists and residents in Boston looking for small-group tours of the city. The company was recently voted the best tour in the country for visitor experience, receiving the 2023 Experience Award from Viator—the leading marketplace for travel experiences. Hub Town Tours has been working to expand their tour offerings outside of Boston’s Freedom Trail, and this year launched their partnership with the Prescott House as a way to do just that.
“Our small guide team is thrilled to begin this new partnership with the NSCDA-MA,” Ted Clark, founder and director of Hub Town Tours, said in a press release. “The William Hickling Prescott House is a 19th-century gem hidden in plain sight overlooking Boston Common, and we’re honored to play a part in activating this historic space for the benefit of Boston visitors and residents alike.”
Guests can now enjoy a tour of three levels of the historic home, learning about the three families living in the house from 1808 until 1938, including historian William Hickling Prescott, from whom the house gets its name. The house is filled with historic and period furniture, impressive paintings, and houses the Dames’ antique costume collection, items from which are regularly displayed. The NSCDA-MA purchased the home in 1944—saving it from the likely fate of being turned into residential apartments—and is now working with Hub Town Tours to make its history more accessible to the public.
Thanks to this new partnership with the Prescott House, Hub Town Tours has also started offering in-depth walking tours of Beacon Hill. The tours begin inside the Prescott House, but then venture out into the neighborhood to see the sites on the Black Heritage Trail and uncover the events in Beacon Hill that led up to the American Civil War.
As stated by Hub Town Tour’s Operations Director, David Coviello, in a press release: “Every year tens of thousands of visitors flock to Boston to
learn about its pivotal role in the great political revolution; the American struggle for independence, and rightfully so. However, Boston, and the black and white residents of 19th century Beacon Hill worked together to play a leading role in America’s great social revolution— the ending of slavery and the struggle for equality, regardless of skin color.”
There is a lot more to Boston’s history than just the Freedom Trail, and Beacon Hill is at the center of one of these often-overlooked stories.
Dana Smith, a history teacher of almost 40 years who led tours with the National Park Service in Boston for two decades, is one of the Hub Town
Tours historical guides leading guests through Beacon Hill.
“From visiting one of the most important underground railroad sites in America to seeing the site on Beacon Hill where the Abolitionist warriors Charles Sumner and John Brown met face to face, and in many ways made the Civil War inevitable this tour and its story is probably the most enlightening and inspiring that I’ve ever been a part of,” Smith said in a press release.
Tours of Beacon Hill and the Prescott House will run through the Summer and into the Fall, offering both tourists and residents alike the opportunity to learn more about Beacon Hill’s history.
Tours of the Prescott House Museum are offered Friday-Sunday, and tickets are $10.50 each.
Beacon Hill Walking Tours are offered Saturday-Sunday and last two and a half hours. Tickets are $35.50 each. Private tour options are also available.
Visit www.hubtowntours.com/tours for more details on Hub Town Tours.