Saugus Ironworks

Saugus historic houses

The Iron Works house and Boardman house in Saugus are among the oldest houses in North America. Descriptions on this page are from the Massachusetts Historic Commission’s MACRIS site. Featured image above: Saugus Ironworks

Saugus Iron Works house
SAU.27 Saugus Iron Works – Iron Works House, 244 Central St., Saugus (1687)

The Iron Works House was constructed as the residence of the agent for the Company of Undertakers of the Iron Works in New England in pursuance of its contract with the agent, Richard Leader.

Ironworks house in 1915
The Saugus Ironworks house in 1915 before it was restored.

Originally a Tudor-style structure consisting of two rooms on each floor around a central chimney, together with a two-story projecting porch and a full-length lean-to, the house was gradually altered over the years to have a two-story lean-to, an ell consisting of a two-room 18th century building on the west end, and a full-length open porch replacing the original porch. In 1915 it was acquired by a pioneer in historic preservation, Wallace Nutting, and restored to what he and his architect, Henry Charles Dean, felt was its original appearance. In 1917 Nutting enlarged the ell to form a six-room cottage for a caretaker. It is probably the oldest house in Saugus, and one of the oldest European frame houses in the United States.

Boardman house, Saugus MA
Boardman house, Saugus MA

The Boardman House on Howard St. in Saugus was built in 1692, is considered a hall and parlor plan—consisting of two rooms at each story separated by a stair hall at the front and by a massive central chimney at the rear. The lean to was added a few years later in 1696 and then rebuilt in 1731. The simple post and beam framing of the Boardman House exhibits common 17thcentury New England features, including, chamfer and stop decoration, braced corners, longitudinal summer beams, and a principal rafter/common purlin roof structure. The foundation is non-coursed stone with mortar. The parlor side (west room) includes a full height basement with dirt floor while the hall side (east room) and the lean-to are constructed on “sleepers” or timbers placed directly on dirt. On the front façade (south), the Boardman House includes a second floor overhang and exhibits evidence of a decorative pendant at each corner, now missing. In the attic, there is evidence of two early gables. The rear plate of the lean-to exhibits a well fashioned bridled scarf joint. On the interior, the Boardman House includes several rare examples of original early materials, including oak clapboards that have survived inside the lean to addition, a portion of a skirt board that finished the bottom of the rear wall remains in place in the kitchen, and roof decking remains below the expanded roof line of the lean to in the attic. The kitchen or hall preserves evidence of early red paint with which the walls and timbers were treated, while the upper stair hall exhibits a pattern of black sponge painting on an ochre ground that was applied in the early 18thcentur