A Look at the Oldest Houses in Boston

If you haven’t already discerned from previous articles, we here at GuaranteedMassRealEstateLicense.Com really like a good geography lesson. Because, let’s face it if you’re going to practice realty in the state of Massachusetts you’ve got to know at least a little something about the history of real estate. So for your knowledge and entertainment, let’s take a look at some of the state’s oldest buildings and houses, some of which date back at least a century prior to America’s declaration of independence.

  1. House of the Seven Gables
    This Salem, MA house, made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, is a colonial mansion dating back to 1667. Built for Captain John Turner, the house stayed with the family for three generations. When Turner lost the family fortune, the house was acquired by the family, Ingersoll. It was during their residency that Hawthorne spent time at the house gathering inspiration for his book. Throughout its existence, inhabitants remodeled and refined the house, adding rooms, removing gables, updating it to a Georgian style. In 1908, Caroline O. Emmerton, founder of the House of Seven Gables Settlement Association, purchased the house and spent two years restoring it with Boston architect Joseph Everett Chandler. During this time, the house was made to resemble Hawthorne’s depiction in his romantic novel. The house is now a non-profit museum, with an admission fee charged for tours, and an active settlement house with programs for children.

    Shown here, the House of the Seven Gables has been restored to its original glory. Tours are now offered throughout the day.
    Shown here, the House of the Seven Gables has been restored to its original glory. Tours are now offered throughout the day. There’s also a shop on the grounds for those looking to snag a souvenir.
  2. The Fairbanks House
    Located on the southwestern edge of Boston in the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, this house is the oldest surviving timber-frame house in North America. Built between 1637 and 1641 by Puritan settler Jonathan Fairebanke, the house was constructed as a farm dwelling for Fairbanke’s wife Grace Lee Smith and their family. For eight generations, the Fairbanks family occupied the house. In 1905, the house was converted into a museum. It is now a well-known Dedham attraction.
  3. The Paul Revere House
    Built in 1680 by wealthy Boston merchant Robert Howard, this original three-story house once occupied by American Patriot Paul Revere is the oldest surviving house in downtown Boston. Following the Great Fire of 1676, Howard constructed the house atop the former site of the Second Church of Boston’s parsonage. Around the middle eighteenth century, it underwent two major renovations. First, the street-facing roofline was raised to bring the house in line with the Georgian architectural style pervasive at that time. Second, a two-story lean-to was added in the ell between the two 17th-century portions of the house. Revere and his family took ownership of the house in 1770, living there periodically until 1800.
    In 1907, these renovations were undone in a restoration effort that returned the house to its original construction. In April 1908, the house became one of the earliest historic house museums in the United States. In December 2016 the Paul Revere Memorial Association opened a a sizable visitor and education center connected to the house by an elevated walkway. The education center now serves as an exhibit space for Revere’s famous Midnight Ride, as well as his work as a silversmith and industrialist after the American Revolution.

Whether you’re walking the sidewalks of Boston Harbor, roaming Harvard Yard, or exploring its various suburbs and bordering towns (including Salem), you’re sure to find a plethora of historic sites in Boston, Massachusetts. For prospective homeowners, a realtor’s knowledge of the area’s local architectural history might offer an extra appeal, giving greater context to whatever home they’re showing. These three houses are just a few of many prominent historical landmarks in and around Boston proper.

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