History & Culture
The Significance of Saugus Iron Works
To the United States and the World:
Saugus lron Works is a reconstruction of the ﬁrst successful, integrated iron works in the New World. It produced wrought iron and cast iron products from 1646 to approximately 1670, utilizing the most advanced iron making technology in early Colonial times. On April 5th, 1968 the site was renamed Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site and became part of the National Park System because of its significance to the character, development and history of the United States.
Elements of Significance:
The Massachusetts site is nationally signiﬁcant because it is considered the birthplace of the iron and steel industry in Colonial America, initiating and sustaining an advanced iron making technology in the New World. The subsequent dispersal of former workers and their descendants to other parts of Colonial America, where they established other iron producing centers, was critical to the development of industry and technology in the emerging country. Saugus Iron Works demonstrates the crucial role of iron making to the 17th century settlement of the Colonies and its legacy in shaping the history of the nation.
Restored by noted preservationist Wallace Nutting in 1916, the site's 1680's Iron Works House is a prominent example of the Colonial Revival and Twentieth- Century American Preservation Movement.
The National Register of Historic Places calls the Saugus lron Works "the ﬁrst chapter in America's book." With its requirement for a large labor force, the iron works served as a conduit, fowarding the movement of technology and people from the Old World to the New. Through the experiences of Puritans, English freemen, and Scots prisoners engaged for its operation, the iron works traced the British immigrants' journey in the New World, and recorded their stories of assimilation.
Saugus lron Works serves as a learning laboratory to understand and explore the stories of archaeology, Native American settlement, and life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The interrelationship of humans in the natural environment and the ecological effects of industrial development are clearly evident and understood.
In recognition of its signiﬁcance as the birthplace of the iron and steel industry in America, the American iron and Steel institute reconstructed the primary elements of the original iron works after extensive archaeological excavations beginning in the 1940s. Saugus lron Works Restoration opened to the public in 1954 and was operated as a private museum until the National Park Service began its administration "to preserve in public ownership the ﬁrst sustained integrated ironworks in the Thirteen Colonies." The site was donated by the lron and Steel institute.
Last updated: August 11, 2015