Boardman House

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Boardman House in Saugus, Massachusetts

Built in 1692 for the family of William Boardman, a joiner, Boardman House survives remarkably intact from its original construction. With the exception of minor structural stabilization and repairs, the house remains unaltered since the early eighteenth century, providing an exceptional opportunity to view seventeenth- and eighteenth-century construction techniques and finishes.

Historic New England founder William Sumner Appleton purchased Boardman House in 1914 because he recognized its remarkable state of preservation and the extraordinary amount of surviving seventeenth-century building fabric. Original oak clapboards, roof boards and skirt boards, massive timber framing with decorative chamfers, shadow-molded sheathing, and wooden ceilings that were never plastered are among the important features still on view.

Lean-to kitchen of Boardman House in Saugus, Massachusetts

Dendrochronology research conducted at the Boardman House in the winter of 2008 has given additional insight into the life of the house. By 1696, a rear lean-to had been added, accommodating a new kitchen, milk room, and kitchen chamber. This addition of new service space freed the "hall" from its former use as the family's general cooking, eating, and gathering room, and transformed it into a “best room” to complement the parlor. The separation of work spaces and social spaces illustrates an important cultural shift in domestic architecture that was taking place at the turn of the century.

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The Boardman House is a Historic New England property.


Top photo: Exterior of Boardman House - The Boardman House was built in 1692 for William Boardman and his family. Boardman was a joiner, a woodworker who built furniture and did cabinetry and interior finish work. The house has a typical “hall and parlor” plan, with a central chimney stack and staircase. The lean-to at the back was added to the house sometime before 1696, when Boardman died at the age of thirty-eight. Descendants of the Boardman family owned the house and lived in it until 1911.

Bottom photo: Lean-to kitchen - When William Boardman died in 1696, an inventory of the house at his death showed that the rooms of the lean-to were in existence at that time, though the physical evidence in the house clearly shows that the lean-to was not part of the original 1692 house. Recent dendrochronology has further shown us that the current lean-to was reconstructed in 1731, and incorporated some re-used beams from 1693-4 that may have been part of the original lean-to construction. The addition consists of a main room (the kitchen), and two small rooms to east and west: a dairy or “milkhouse,” and a small bedchamber.