Fairbanks House - Dedham, MA, USA
Posted by: NorStar
N 42° 14.593 W 071° 10.054
19T E 321168 N 4679055
Quick Description: This house, the original homestead of the Fairbanks family in this country, is claimed (and tested) to be the oldest wood-framed house in America.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 1/19/2009 8:27:01 PM
Waymark Code: WM5KX8
Dedham, Massachusetts, one of the oldest towns in the commonwealth, is the location of the Fairbanks House, the oldest timber framed house yet known to exist in America. And, what is even more surprising is that it is in good condition and largely in its original state.
Several pieces of the structural wood have been 'tree ring' dated between the mid 1630s to 1641. Today, it is thought that the house was built in 1641 from wood felled up to a few years before. So far, no other house standing has been found that is dated earlier. Over the years, the house has been added to. The lean-to addition was added in the 1600s, likely after 1668. The east and west wings standing were probably built between 1780 and 1800.
The house belonged to Jonathan Fairbanke, who had a wife, Grace, and six children. They would have been early settlers of the "Dedham Plantation" as it was originally called, since Dedham was settled in 1635. Since then, eight generations of the Fairbanks family lived in the house. When the last one moved out in 1904, the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc. turned it into a museum, which it continues as today.
When you enter the house, the first thing you have to do is put on cloth slippers to reduce human impact on the floors. The house has many rooms that contain various furniture and artifacts, many of which, at one time, were owned by the family.
Though the house, today, may look rather 'cosy' and 'modest', at the time, it was considered a stately manor. The original house had four rooms: a hall (kitchen), parlor, hall chamber and parlor chamber (rooms above). There also were two cellars. The house sat on 12 acres of land.
The house is open seasonally from May to October on Saturdays, 10-5, and Sundays, 1-5. Admission is a reasonable US$ 5
National Register of Historic Places Web Site:
Historic American Building Survey (HABS):