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As a Cambridge real estate agent, the city squares of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and the town centers of Arlington, Watertown and Belmont, Massachusetts are my home turf. And as a lifelong New Englander who’s lived within twenty miles of Boston most of my life, I can introduce you to other nearby towns as we search for your new home. If you’re planning to sell your home in Cambridge, MA or nearby you’ll find plenty of info about the home selling process here too. Questions? Send me an email or call me at 617-504-1737.

The Saltbox Architectural Style – Houses in Cambridge and Arlington

The Saltbox – Architectural Styles in Cambridge.  The saltbox is a quintessentially New England house style.   Usually formed when a lean-to was added to a one-and-a-half or two-story house, the saltbox features a short high roof on the front of the house and a pitched roof that slopes to a one-story height at the back of the house.  Saltboxes usually have a large central chimney.  The name comes from the house’s resemblance to the early American wood box with a hinged sloped lid that was used to store salt.  The style dates from the 1600s through the early 1800s and remains popular today.   Reproduction saltbox houses – and surviving originals – can be found all over New England.

A Cambridge Saltbox - the Cooper-Frost-Austin House

A Cambridge Saltbox - the Cooper-Frost-Austin House

Saltbox Houses in Cambridge and Arlington

Though one would imagine the saltbox was a common style at one point in Cambridge’s history the only early example I am aware of in Cambridge is the Cooper-Frost-Austin House on Linnaean Street.  This is the oldest house in Cambridge with the earliest part of the home dating from 1681.  The house is now owned by Historic New England (formerly SPNEA, the Society for Preservation of New England Antiquities) and will next be open to the public on August 9, 2009 from noon to 4 pm.

With its prominent location and the spacious (by city standards!) side yard, the Cooper-Frost-Austin house provides a very visible example of the saltbox style.  The trademark sloping roofline is best viewed from the corner of Agassiz and Linnaean Streets.

The Jefferson Cutter house in Arlington is a saltbox. See the side view in the slide show below.

The Jefferson Cutter house in Arlington is a saltbox. To see the saltbox side take a look at the slide show below.

In an even more prominent location, the  Jefferson Cutter  house in Arlington Center provides another unimpeded view of a saltbox’s distinctive roof line. On Mass Ave and across from the bikepath entrance on Route 60, the house, built about 1830, was moved it’s current location in 1989. It is now home to the Cyrus E. Dallin Art Musuem.  Dallin was a sculptor who lived in Arlington from 1900 until his death in 1944.  The location of the Jefferson Cutter house, set back in Whittemore Park, provides views of all sides of this saltbox style house.  It is possible to easily view the back of the house where you’ll see that the back facade looks very much like a Cape.


Do you know of any local saltboxes – old or new?  Let me know if you do.

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