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Shirley-Eustis House

31-37 Shirley Street Roxbury, MA

Built: 1741-1756

Style: Georgian


The Shirley-Eustis House was originally the home of Massachusetts Governor William Shirley who governed from 1741-1756 and was also a colonial leader in the generation before the Revolution. During the Revolution the Shirley-Eustis House was used by American patriots as barracks and a hospital during the military siege of Boston. In 1819 it was purchased by Dr. William Eustis and altered. During the Revolutionary War Eustis was a surgeon and afterward was twice elected Governor of Massachusetts.

Because of its association with the Revolution, the House has slowly been deteriorating. After the American patriots used the house it was restored by John Read, who purchased the property in 1782 in the sale of confiscated estates. After Read, a number of owners passed through the house until in 1819 when it was purchased by William Eustis of Boston.

In 1876 the Eustis family sold the house and it was moved 30 feet to the east in order to construct Shirley Street. Before the Shirley-Eustis House Association saved the house in 1911, it had been split up into tenements and the original rural setting was destroyed by the streets and building crowding upon it. The house has been kept in a state of temporary repair but the interior is not furnished and the entire building is rapidly deteriorating.


The building was once one of the most imposing houses of formal Georgian design in the Colonies. The Shirley-Eustis House was one of the first houses to use giant order pilasters for added grandeur, and was topped by a cupola. It became a sort of colonial showplace with its imposing facades and elaborate interior designs.

Double flight stone steps led to the main or west entrance where the facade was broke into five bays by the imposition of giant pilasters. The windows lacked elaborate framing but the entrance was surrounded with rustic quoins and oversized keystones. A dentiled cornice surrounded the entire building. The House had a hipped roof with two pedimented dormers protruding from it. This House was one of the first houses to use giant pilasters in New England. It's important noted that the House had no fireplace and seemed impractical for wintertime.


National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form