Old Houses of Needham





Fuller House | Townsend House | 2nd Fuller House | Tolman Gay House | Hearthstone Farm | Bird House | Hawes-Newell House | Lewis House | Ebenezer McIntosh House | Nathan McIntosh House | Whitney House |Ezra Fuller House | Mills House | Little Red School House | Needham Historical Society | Luther Morse House

About Old Houses - Colonial Houses
Fireplaces | Moving

House Style

1640 - 1720
Early English Medieval Type/Typical Saltbox

  • One large chimney
  • Small windows/small panes
  • Log door
  • Steep pitched roofs
  • Thatched roof

The first homes built in New England were constructed of timber, probably split logs. The cracks were filled with clay.


These houses from Plimouth Plantation are good examples of early Needham houses.

The earliest form of roofing material used by the Pilgrims was thatch. Reeds and rushes were gathered from nearby swamps, bound into bundles,and lashed to the roof. The thatch was piled layer upon layer until it was about one foot thick. These houses were of the simplest design. They were not built to last and are not around today. Every house was required by law to have a ladder for fire protection. Sparks escaping from the chimney could set the roof on fire.

This is a good example of a saltbox house.

In the 1700 they started adding to the back of the houses to give them more space inside. The result was the one and a half room deep saltbox.

The Fairbanks House in Dedham was built during this time.

The saltbox takes its name from a sloping roof that gives the house the shape of a wooden box used to store salt in Colonial times.

1740 - 1830

  • Larger house - more chimneys
  • Larger windows/larger panes
  • Symmetrically balanced windows
  • Shutters
  • Fancier door

After this, houses changed into the four rooms over four rooms style called the Colonial House.

bird house
The Bird House was built during this time.

1850 - 1920

  • Larger house
  • Larger windows/more windows
  • Back to one chimney
  • Decorative door
  • Addition of front porch
  • Later addition of garage


colonial house
This is an example of a Colonial House.


Next - Fireplaces


Julie Likel Minarski and Kathleen Martell
Needham Public Schools, Needham MA
June 2006 /
Updated 2009