Historic $10.75M Home in Boston Was a Stop on the Underground Railroad

A historic home in Boston with ties to a Civil War figure popularized in the movie “Glory” has come onto the market for $10.75 million.

The property, built in 1827, was designed by the architect Jesse Shaw, a relative of Robert Gould Shaw, the commanding officer of the first all-black regiment to fight for the Union during the Civil War.

It is also said to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, the network of secret routes and safehouses used by escapees from the Southern states fleeing northward. It’s believed to have an underground bunker that was used as a hiding place, accessible through the full basement.

Located in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, the 19th-century property is considered one of the best-preserved examples of Federal architecture in the country, notes the listing agent, Beth Dickerson of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.

“It’s got a lot of history, and a lot of people are fascinated,” Dickerson says.

The five-story, 6,500-square-foot, five-bedroom, six-bathroom abode is a standout not only for its size—which is wider than unusual for the street—but also for its roots.

The story of the all-black regiment’s bravery is told in the 1989 film “Glory,” which stars Matthew Broderick as Robert Gould Shaw, as well as Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.

Shaw kept his horses in stables behind this home as he assembled his regiment in 1863. The famed Massachusetts regiment fought and was defeated at Fort Wagner, SC, where Shaw was killed. A monument to their heroics can be found in nearby Boston Common.

The lovely abode is located in an area that historically housed organizations devoted to the anti-slavery movement. The Shaws were a prominent abolitionist family.

That’s not the only tale this home has to tell. The formal dining room was for a time used as a speakeasy or “gentleman’s club,” with its own entry onto the street. That entrance has since been closed up and the space is now, appropriately, the wine cellar. 

Other standout details include the parlor level, which features a living room, music room, and an impressive office or library with a vaulted ceiling and skylights.

The entry level features the formal dining room, eat-in kitchen, and family room. One floor up, the master suite and office take over the entire floor.

The top two floors share four bedrooms, another living area, and a gym—which you may not need after climbing up and down five floors. The property also includes a deck and two-car garage.

The home’s long history includes other notable residents. According to the lore, previous owners include the Heinz family (of Heinz condiments), and the family of the actor George Hamilton, whose mother was apparently married in the living room.

The historic home last changed hands in 2003 for $5.7 million, and the current owners have updated everything except the kitchen, which had been renovated before they moved in. Now empty-nesters, the sellers are hoping to downsize. 

Noting the combination of its amenities and its history, Dickerson says, “It’s definitely a very stunning home and unusual to Beacon Hill.”

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