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Edward Everett House Was Home to Several Public Figures

The residence at 16 Harvard St. was built after the Revolutionary War.

According to the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Edward Everett House provides an "elegant and memorable introduction to Harvard Street’s important collection of early mid 19th century Charlestown residences."

Matthew Bridge, one of the leaders of the effort to rebuild Charlestown following the Revolutionary War, had the house built. Bridge most likely built the house for his daughter Sally.

Soon after the house was finished, Bridge died and Sally and her husband Seth Knowles moved into number 16. When Sally Knowles died unexpectedly in 1825, Seth Knowles and his new wife Sarah Payson remained in the house until 1830. When they relocated to Beacon Hill, they leased the house to Edward Everett, 16 Harvard St.'s best known occupant.

Edward Everett was not only a famous orator but also a U.S. representative, governor of Massachusetts, president of Harvard College, secretary of state and a U.S. senator.

Everett lived at number 16 until 1837. William Carleton, founder of Northfield College in Minnesota, then bought the house and lived there until 1863. Ezra Tull followed, and then came Francis Childs as owner. Childs was once a state senator and a member of the governor’s council.  

Everett Mansion in the 20th Century

In the early 1900s the house was extensively renovated as a shore home for those enlisted in the U.S. Navy. From the Boston Globe, Oct. 18, 1909:

Fifty iron cots and mattresses, tables, chairs and other furnishings have been received ... the rooms have been thoroughly cleaned, ceilings whitened and floors painted.

For many years following this renovation, the Everett mansion was known as the Charlestown naval branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association.

In 1920, Austin White purchased the "dilapidated property" and hired an architect to convert the house into offices. Several owners quickly followed. In the 1940s the house was converted, yet again, this time into a boarding house.  It was later converted into apartments.

  • Where is it? 16 Harvard St.
  • When was it built? 1814
  • Who built it? Matthew Bridge, a Charlestown merchant and ship owner
  • What was it built for and who was the first occupant? Sally Bridge-Knowles and Seth Knowles. Knowles was one of the original members of the Bunker Hill Memorial Association. General Lafayette is said to have been entertained in the house on June 17, 1825.
  • Why was it built? As part of the rebuilding effort in post-Revolutionary War Charlestown
  • How was it built? Of brick. There were four large rooms on the first floor, including a parlor, library, reading room and kitchen. On the second floor were two large front rooms, two bedrooms and a storeroom. On the third floor were six sleeping rooms.
  • Why is this house significant? it is Charlestown’s most stylish and substantial masonry Federal house.
  • What are the future plans for the structure? The Ionic columns at the entrance porch were most likely added in the 1830s or 1840s.The Edward Everett House was declared a Boston landmark by the Landmarks Commission and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is a jewel. It is currently privately owned and occupied.

Information for this article was compiled from various research materials, including Boston Landmarks Commission; "Old Charlestown" by Timothy Sawyer; Boston Globe, Oct. 18, 1909; and notes from Dan O’Neil.

Nancy Hannan January 18, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Nice article Helen.
Joseph January 18, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Another Charlestown history lesson. Thank you Helen!

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