This stern, Federal brick building was the first of three houses designed by Charles Bulfinch for Mr Harrison Gray Otis at the end of the 18th century. Preservationists have recreated the interior of Otis’ day, complete with flashy wallpaper and exquisite period furnishings. Tours take place every half-hour.

A real-estate developer, congressman and mayor of Boston, Otis and his wife Sally were renowned entertainers who hosted many lavish parties here. Since then the house has had quite a history, serving as a women’s bath and rooming house. These days it is the headquarters of the preservationist society Historic New England.