I’ll admit it – my favorite homes so far in this journey have been the ones that have detailed trim work, bedrooms for their live-in staff, grand staircases that still stand today as testament to the wealth that once occupied the home. However, as this project continues, I’m learning about other styles and time periods in New England and it is way more fascinating than I thought. The Boardman House was one of those homes. If you’re into architecture & structure, this home is for you!
- The story of the Boardman House starts in 1648, when an English carpenter Samuel Bennett, received a grant of 20 acres in Lynn, which through prosperous ventures he grew quickly to amass over 300 acres. At the time this area was known as the “Chelsea panhandle”.
- The English Civil War was taking place, and sixty two Scottish soldiers were brought to be servants at the Saugus Iron Works. A structure was built in 1651 to house these servants, approximately 100 yards away from where the current Boardman House is; so, until the mid 1950’s or so, people thought that the Boardman House was the place where the servants were living, and dubbed it the “Scotch House”. Testing the age of the wood would later solidify the fact that the “Scotch House” must have been another structure, as the Boardman Hosue was confirmed to be built in 1692.
- The first mention of William Boardman is in 1686, in a boundary document stating the land was now his. William built what was known as a “two room plan” in 1692, featuring a chimney in the middle of the home with a hall and parlor on the first floor, two bed chambers above those, and an attic. There is evidence of two gables being on the home at one time or another, but they would have been solely cosmetic and as I learned while visiting The Pierce House, they would have been fairly leaky, and were removed.
- A lean-to, which reminded me very much of The Fairbanks House, was built on the back of the home sometime between 1692 and 1696, which is a bit strange as the house was still new at the time – but, when William Boardman died in 1696 there was an inventory done of the house and it included the lean-to. This lean-to actually preserved these original clapboards, nails and roofing which is amazing to see today.
- The property was then passed down to William Boardman Jr. , who had at least eight children in the home, and he made additional cosmetic renovations, which included the “specialization” of rooms – meaning a dedicated kitchen where all cooking would take place.
- While the house has remained in one place since it was built, the town lines shifted multiple times around it. There was a period of time where the family was paying taxes in both Lynn and Boston, as the town line split the house. Finally in 1841, a local court passed an act to transfer a portion of Chelsea to Saugus, which is the town it sits in today. A house that never had a home!
- The home remained within the Boardman family for 225 years. In 1911 it was left to Boardman descendant Elmer B. Newhall and he decided to sell the property to Jacob B. Wilbur, who we would describe today as a real estate developer. He split up the land the home was sitting on and quickly made a profit.
- In 1914 the local community was concerned that the writing was on the wall for the historic home, and in an effort to preserve it they contacted William Sumner Appleton, who was the founder of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now called Historic New England), and he acquired the property and a few smaller lots around the home to ensure it’s preservation.
- While Appleton left the majority of the home untouched, he did have to do much restoration especially with repairs to the chimney, fireplaces, windows and some work on the roof. He uncovered some amazing wall decor in the hallway, and much of the original integrity of the home remains. As the ceilings were never plastered over, you can see original beams and the carpentry methods that hold up the home, and original stairs and floorboards are throughout. How none of this has been altered much since 1692 I’ll never understand, but will always be grateful for!
Used for churning butter and other various dairy-related tasks, this room is a show stoper for other reasons: the well preserved seventeenth century clapboards & nails. I loved being able to get up close to these, with such great light so you can really see the carpentry.
This is where you can see some original wall decor – I would have loved to have seen it’s true colors! Amazing to see it so well preserved after 300+ years.
This new fireplace & hearth were added into the lean-to between 1692 – 1696, so it is still the “new” kitchen. With a great beehive oven and a tad more space than the other fireplaces, it was likely a huge improvement to every day life at that time.
Yep, two attics. One of my favorite quirks of visiting the leanto attic is the teeny, tiny, narrow door that you squeeze thru to step into the attic, where you can gaze at the towering chimney and see more of the original clapboard. Then when you head up one more flight into the other attic, you can really see the craftsmanship of the structure. It was so need to see how they labeled all the beams to ensure they matched up!
This was probably the most interesting room to me – there was just so much going on between the colors, the bricks, the floor and the ceiling joists. Plus, it gave you a sneak peek thru a closet into the lean-to attic.
- Don’t miss the hardware on the doors – in the upstairs hall room, it’s original hardware!
- While the tour started outside, make sure that you take a moment to really look at the home – it simply screams “New England”. The roof line in the back over the lean-to is one of a kind.
- Peek at the faint designs that you can see through the greenish blue paint above the mantel again in the hall room – it’s original decorative paint. I noticed it at first, but thought it was maybe just some texture from the wood showing thru until the guide mentioned that it was more than that!
- While it’s not something you may normally volunteer to do, step right into the fireplaces in this home. It’s amazing to be able to stand up straight, with plenty of room to spare, and see just how HUGE these fireplaces are.
- The Boardman Home is only open on specific days & times, so ensure you check their website before heading over on a Saturday!
- It’s on a fairly busy street, so parking is available in a small driveway to the left of the home
- While I didn’t have time to add this to my tour, the Saugus Iron Works is nearby, and as mentioned above has ties to the home. But really, how cool does that place look?! Wish I knew in advance so I could have planned a trip at the same time.