Beacon Hill

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One of the oldest communities in the City of Boston, Beacon Hill gets its name from the beacon that once stood high on the hill to warn locals about invasions. The neighborhood is home to the Massachusetts State House and a number of historical landmarks, including the Boston African American National Historic Site. Situated just north of Boston Common, Beacon Hill is made up of narrow, gas-lit streets and bow-fronted Federal-style brick row houses. This historic neighborhood has been home to names like architect Charles Bulfinch, author Louisa May Alcott, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., poets Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath, Secretary of State John Kerry, and actress Uma Thurman, among others.

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The area we know today as Beacon Hill and Boston Common was originally owned by Reverend William Blaxton (also spelled Blackstone), the first European to settle Boston and a reclusive clergyman. Up until the Revolutionary War, the area was pasture land with a few notable exceptions, including John Hancock's estate. The hill began its physical and social transformation in 1795, when construction of the State House began. Several wealthy Bostonians, including Charles Bulfinch, the famous architect who designed the Massachusetts State House, formed an association called the Mount Vernon Proprietors with the purpose of developing the area. The parcel of land now called Beacon Hill was known as Tri-mount or Tremont because of its three peaks shorn off in the early 1800s so an area around them could be turned into buildable land. The neighborhood got its name from the hill that was topped by a beacon, which once alerted Bostonians of danger. A monument behind the State House marks the original location of the beacon, which then was approximately 60 feet higher than its current elevation.

During the 19th century, the area was home to both the richest and the poorest Boston residents. On the South Slope resided some of the Hub’s most patrician families, the so-called Boston Brahmins, and the less prosperous North Slope was home to many African Americans, a center for black and white abolitionists, and an important station on the Underground Railroad. The Flat of the Hill was originally part of the Charles River. After it was filled, it became home to blacksmiths, shoemakers, stables and later, garages of the homes on the South Slope. Now almost all these buildings have been renovated into living quarters.

The Historic Beacon Hill District was designated in 1955, and expanded in 1958 and 1963.

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Real Estate

Largely residential, the structures on Beacon Hill showcase several different styles and are the work of a number of notable architects, including Charles Bulfinch, Asher Benjamin, Solomon Willard, and Alexander Parris. The Federal and Greek Revival styles were most popular during the first half of the 19th century and are the most predominant, but later examples of Italianate, Panel Brick, Egyptian Revival, Queen Anne, and American Gothic Revival styles can also be found. As the apartment building emerged in the later part of the 19th century, some early examples of adaptive reuse occurred on Beacon Hill as a number of stables and carriage houses were converted into loft spaces and studios.

Today, the one quarter square mile area is one of the most desirable and expensive neighborhoods in Boston. Located just north of Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden, Beacon Hill is surrounded by some of the city's most well-known streets, including Beacon Street, Bowdoin Street, Cambridge Street, and Storrow Drive.

2018 Statistics*

  • Median Sale Price: $845,000

  • Average Sale Price: $1,672,615

  • Average Price Per Square Foot: $1,197

  • Single-Family Homes Sold: 20

  • Highest Single-Family Home Sale Price: $7,500,000

  • Condominiums Sold: 150

  • Highest Condominium Sale Price: $15,110,000

*For the most up-to-date real estate market analysis of the neighborhood, contact us directly.

View our weekly Sunday Open House guide and explore what's available on Beacon Hill's real estate market.


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Beacon Hill Lifestyle

A charming historic region, Beacon Hill is known for its historical landmarks, and its many antique shops, boutiques, and fine eating and drinking establishments.