DETROIT – Paul Gross: As some of you know by now, I am back from the American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) 100th annual meeting, which was held in Boston. 5,500 meteorologists from all across the world came to Boston for this historic meeting, with a myriad of professional scientific conferences filling all of our days! Adding to the meeting’s history is that Boston is home to AMS headquarters, located at 45 Beacon Street. AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter graciously hosted a reception for broadcast meteorologists at headquarters on Monday evening, and I am still glowing from the time spent in the amazing house that is home to the world’s preeminent professional meteorological society.
Designed and built in 1806 by Charles Bulfinch, this was the home of Boston’s third mayor, Harrison Gray Otis, who lived here until his death in 1848. The house has thirty-seven rooms, including ten bathrooms, fifteen fireplaces, four stair halls, four elevator lobbies, a wine cellar and a Carriage House (the only remaining carriage house on Beacon Hill today).
Every time I walk into 45 Beacon Street, the first thing I do is head into this room and the portrait of Ken Spengler. Ken was AMS executive director for decades, and was a dear friend of mine. He was a very special man who cherished history and the AMS, as I do. I began to interact a lot with Ken when I was chairman of the AMS Board of Broadcast Meteorology in 1990, and it didn’t take long to appreciate what a wonderful man he was. When I began the application process in 1997 to become an AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologist, Ken wrote one of my letters of recommendation, and I’ll always be grateful for that. This painting is one of the best representations of a man that I’ve ever seen, and I always head to that painting first and pay my respects to Ken whenever I visit AMS headquarters.
Architecturally, the Harrison Gray Otis House is called a Georgian Style home (and is the finest example in the nation). However, as Keith Seitter told us at the reception, back in the early 1800s, Revolutionary War wounds ran deep, and the house’s style at that time was called “Federalist,” so as not to reference in any way the name of King George! As some point later, the style was correctly returned to its original Georgian Style.
The old Carriage House, which housed horses and carriages, is now home to a number of staff members.
Walking around AMS headquarters, one cannot escape appreciation for our nation’s rich history. The AMS became caretakers of the house when it was deeded to the Society , and preserving this historical gem is a high priority. What a privilege to once again visit this American landmark.