George and Susan Nichols

Owners 1850 to 1892

George Nichols was born in Salem in 1809 to a merchant and ship master. He graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1828. In 1833 he and two partners bought the (Harvard) University Press. Along with James Monroe, he bought the (Harvard) University Bookstore in 1847. Nichols also worked as a proofreader appointed by Harvard President Josiah Quincy. He edited the works of Burke and completed a five-volume edition of the papers of Charles Sumner. 

George Nichols married Susan Farley Treadwell in 1834. In 1850 the Nichols family returned to Cambridge, moving to 159 Brattle Street, which they eventually purchased from the estate of Deborah Carpenter in 1860. Together George and Susan Nichols had five daughters: Susan, Lily, Harriet, Lucy, Mary; and one son, John White Treadwell Nichols. George Nichols died in Cambridge in 1882.

According to Mary Gozzaldi, Susan Nichols had a fondness for children. She formed the Constellation Club where neighborhood children came to stargaze and socialize. The house also served as host for several meetings of the Bee, a local young women’s sewing circle, of which Lucy and Mary were founding members.

Following Susan Farley Nichols’ death in 1892, the house was left to her children. They subdivided the property and sold the house to Henry Lee, a descendant of earlier owner Joseph Lee.