Nathaniel’s Coffee House

Nathaniel’s Coffee House


A seemingly permanent fixture of well-to-do Bostonian social life, this imposing three-storey brick mansion was built in 1740. It stands on the west side of North Street, between Sun Court and Fleet Street. The house main entry is in a covered portico, up six stone steps.

The ground floor mostly comprises one large, long room which is edged on three sides by booths where privacy is at least partly assured by green velvet curtains that can be drawn across, and the general hubbub of the always-busy Common Room, and on the last by the main bar/servery and entrances to other portions of the house. To one side, as one enters, stands a podium on which is kept a great book – a register of every ship and Skyship that enters or leaves port. On this floor are also found the storerooms, kitchen and other necessities. Coffee, chocolate, cider, wine, spirits and beer can be purchased here, as can meals.

On the middle floor – known as the Trading Floor – are private meeting rooms, arranged around a central stairwell. In these rooms guests can conduct business, or private dining, all for a fee. Several people run their businesses entirely from the Trading Floor, reserving a table or a whole room for an annual rent. Nathaniel’s is a center for shipping insurance, and many other financial dealings. The insurance “Underwriters” pool their resources to rent three entire rooms on a permanent basis. A room costs $1,400 per month and a single table costs $540.

The uppermost or Residential Floor is given over to guest, owners and servant quarters. There is a rooftop garden offering excellent views over the bay and port, and guests often take lunch or afternoon tea there. Rooms, when available, rent for $700 per month including meals, drinks are charged separately.

Overall, the mansion is appointed in a fine, subdued but rich style – green leather upholstery, velvet curtains, dark oak wood panelling and some of the finest plasterwork in the city. Drinks and meals are served in the finest glass and porcelain china, and the silverware is actually silver.


Nathaniel’s Coffee House

Arcanum 1780: A New World Cernig