Dr. Arthur Nichols and his wife Elizabeth were "typical Bostonians" who lived with their three daughters in a tall brick townhouse at the top of Boston's Beacon Hill. Dr. Nichols was a prominent physician and married Elizabeth Fisher Homer who lived in the nearby town of Roxbury in 1869. They educated their three daughters, Rose, Marian and Margaret, in the importance of a high social life and traveled often to Europe. Like other upper-class women of their day, the Nichols women were social activists and lobbied for reform and expanded rights both locally and internationally. Rose, the oldest daughter, one of the first women to work in garden design, was passionately devoted to the cause of world peace, and, in 1961, established her family home as the Nichols House Museum after she died in 1960.

For further details on Rose Standish Nichols and the Nichols family, see their story in At Home on Beacon Hill: Rose Standish Nichols and Her Family by B. June Hutchinson, published in 2011.