He was Boston's largest taxpayer with little interest in civic affairs. He was listed yearly in the Blue Book and joined no clubs. He possessed a dining room overlooking Boston Common and never entertained.
If George Nixon Black was mentioned at all, it was almost as rumor. He came and went from the opera in a carriage pulled by horses that were the envy of his peers. If he were glimpsed on the street, it was almost always with one of his beloved dogs by his side. His magnificent seaside greenhouses boasted rare plants, his collection of antiques and paintings, seldom exhibited, were said to be extraordinary. When his own portrait was painted, just twice, he chose women artists. Each winter he quietly boarded a luxury European-bound steamship with a man eighteen years his junior. The two had lived together for years.
Black's life was exceptional for his time. After a youth marred by violence and uncertainty, and a life of great privilege contrasted with the awareness of the danger his lifestyle placed him in, his happiness is remarkable and his secrecy understandable.
In the end, it was his house that gave him away. While Black himself was probably content to slip unnoticed into history, Kragsyde, his house at Lobster Cove, was to have no such fate. Published many times when it was first designed, and adored by architects and scholars ever since, the marvelous and photogenic house has made it impossible for Black to disappear.
In The House at Lobster Cove, you will meet the elusive Boston bachelor who was a curious blend of humility and fierceness, and see behind the doors of Kragsyde, the house that sheltered and shaped him, and continued to tell his story long after both were gone.