Saltbox Style Architecture: Phineas Upham House

Saltbox architecture is a specific design and style that was often used in Colonial times.  The Saltbox style received its name due to the similarity to a saltbox ornament.  The Colonial period was from 1680-1820.  The Saltbox style homes were extremely popular among the early American settlers.

Saltbox style was one of three common styles of homes during that time.  The other two styles were the Cape Cod style and the Georgian style.  Most Colonial homes were two-stories high and one room deep.  The majority of homes in the Colonial Period had a wood frame and a simple floor plan.

Saltbox style has a unique look to it because it has a sloping roof and it’s asymmetrical in nature.  They look very similar to sheds and usually came equipped with a central chimney and entrance.  The windows were characteristically small with diamond shaped panes.

There are a few Saltbox style homes that are still standing today and are open for tours and visits.  One such home is the Phineas Upham House which is located in Melrose, Massachusetts.  The Phineas Upham House was established in 1703 by John Upham and his wife Tamzen Hill.  They built the house in the traditional Saltbox style.  The home has been maintained and overseen by the Upham Family Society, a group of Upham descendants, since 1940.  This home is a special landmark as it’s revered by the National Register of Historic Places.  The Phineas Upham House was vacant between 1907 through 1913 before it was purchased by the Melrose Historical Society.  The Melrose Historical Society did a complete restoration of the house from 1914-1915.  So, while the house may not be exactly as it was in the Colonial Period, it has been mostly preserved in its original form.

Phineas Upham

Phineas Upham House

While the Phineas Upham House is a standout among Saltbox style homes, it isn’t the only significant one in the New England area.  The Ephraim Hawley House is a Saltbox farmhouse located within Trumball, Connecticut which has also been around for a very long time.  The Comfort Starr House is a classic Saltbox house located in Guilford, Connecticut and it dates all the way back to 1645.  This home is still in its original state.




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