Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings
Ownership and Administration. Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, 141 Cambridge Street, Boston.
Significance. This house, an outstanding survivor of 17th-century New England, has been highly praised by most students of colonial American architecture, particularly because so much of its original finish is unspoiled. Few examples of the typical New England house remain so unmarred.
The exact date of construction is not known. For many years it was believed that the house had been built to shelter Scottish prisoners captured by Oliver Cromwell in the Battle of Dunbar, September 13, 1650, and transported to America to labor in the ironworks at Saugus. Recent scholarship throws some doubt on this contention and suggests that the present house stands near, but not on, the site of the original "Scotch" house and conjectures that the present house was built after 1686. The house followed the normal plan for a typical family dwelling of the period. Its fine decorative detail, characteristic of the best houses of the time, would hardly have been found in prisoners' quarters.
The original form of the present house was the usual two-room central-chimney plan, two-and-a-half stories high, under which a half-cellar was located. The lean-to was a later addition. On the west side of the ground floor is the parlor; on the east side, the hall, or kitchen. Above each of these rooms, on either side of the central chimney, is a sleeping chamber.
Present Appearance. The present exterior of the houseincluding the clapboards, underboarding, roof covering, windows, and front doordates almost entirely from a later period than the interior. Formal restoration, during the period 1915-18, was expertly carried out. Little was done to change the condition in which the structure was found, for fear of damaging the integrity of its original finish, so much of which has fortunately survived. Since the restoration, only repairs necessary to preservation and upkeep have been undertaken. The house is open to the public in the summer and is maintained in excellent condition. 
NHL Designation: 11/05/61
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005