Detail Grand Staircase photo by Andrew Saxe.jpg

The Great Hall

The two story East Hall features a stunning “Venetian” Palladian entrance door which, during the time of William Shirley, looked out onto formal gardens and terraces dropping to salt marshes and the sea. The doorway’s pilasters with Corinthian capitals are the principal surviving feature of Georgian period carved woodwork. They may be the work of housewright Benjamin Eustis, ancestor of William Eustis.

The grand staircase, a Federal addition, rises easily to the second floor where it ends with a sweeping curve. Its landing forms a large balcony overlooking the great hall below. Here musicians were often stationed. Purportedly a visiting Daniel Webster was so impressed with the beauty and width of the stairway that he asked whether Governor Eustis was accustomed to drive up to his room with his coach and four. 

What began as Governor Shirley’s State Room and welcomed many notable figures of colonial history later became the setting for lavish social gatherings hosted by Caroline and William Eustis. None was more notable than their banquet in honor of  the Marquis de Lafayette during his American Tour in 1824.

Today a late 18th century sixteen-candle Waterford crystal chandelier, said to have once hung in Saint John's College, Oxford, adorns the hall’s ceiling. The lighting fixture was purchased for the Shirley-Eustis House Association by Dr. and Mrs. Edward Peirson Richardson in 1985. Three large portraits, one of William Shirley, the others of prosperous Boston residents and prominent loyalists Mr. & Mrs. Brinley, can be found on the south wall.