A variation of early Colonial or Cape Cod style houses, the practical and simple saltbox was often a single room deep.
Given that often a dozen or more people crowded into these early homes, colonists soon began looking for practical ways to expand living space. Adding a single-story lean-to shed to the back of a 1.5 or 2 story & one-room deep house was the most practical method of gaining more space.
The resulting shape of this new house was the shape of a wooden box used to store salt in Colonial times, that’s why we call them saltboxes.
In most saltboxes the lean-to addition was divided into three rooms: a central kitchen with its new fireplace and oven; a “birthing” or “borning” room – reserved for childbirth and the sick; and a pantry.
Sometimes a rear stair, located near the pantry, led up to a low-ceilinged storage space. The prominent center chimney or a pair of end chimneys also defines this style.
By the late 1600’s (1680 saw a lot of these built), the saltbox had become so popular that houses were being built with the lean-to as part of the original construction, with the roofline unbroken from the ridge to the rear wall.
The saltbox grew from the early stone ender to a comfortable three-bedroom house over a period of about thirty years as families grew in size and became wealthier.
Saltboxes are still being built (although their sloping roofline limits upstairs space) and buyers and sellers agree that this is one of the most practical home styles in all of New England.
Because of this, these homes sell quickly and at solid market prices and are considered a great investment.