380-year-old Massachusetts house is oldest for sale in America
A notable home in Hanover, Mass., from 1640 is the oldest property in America currently on the market.
Built long before the formation of the United States, the home is an indelible slice of Hanover’s history. Now, this historic residence 17 miles north of Plymouth Rock can be yours for $669,900.
“The original part of the house is from the 1640s,” says listing agent Syd Elliott. “And it’s still amazing.”
Known as the Col. John Barstow house, as well as Broad Oak Farm, the building includes an original structure from 1640 as well as an addition done in the 1790s.
“This is truly a different house,” Elliott says in a bit of an understatement. “It’s not an elaborate home. It’s a very comfortable home.”
Storied and historic
The layout of the home has changed over the centuries. It’s believed to have originally been a smaller, Cape Cod–style house built way before the American Revolution. Ownership records can be traced to 1792, when Barstow bought the house.
In 1788, Barstow, from a family of shipbuilders, married Betsey Eells. The couple had nine children and needed to enlarge the home to accommodate their growing family. This is why you now see a Colonial-style facade on the home. Barstow’s renovations and additions were completed around 1799, according to information from the Hanover Historical Society.
However, an exterior vestige of the 1640s structure has survived: There’s a single granite step at the back of the home, probably the original front door. In 1901, Dr. L. Vernon Briggs purchased the property, restoring it back to its glory days as a shipbuilder’s mansion.
Over the past century, subsequent owners also took care to maintain the home’s original interiors. As far as historical homes go, this one stands out for that reason.
“The problem with antique [homes] in New England: A lot of them are antiques on the outside but ultramodern inside,” Elliott says. “This is not the case.”
Parts of this home are nearly 400 years old, including a sitting area with paneled boards and beams. In the formal front of the house, a large chimney is the central focus. Also noteworthy are the detailed fireplace mantels, an unusual feature for the period.
The Pierce family bought the home in 1967, and lived there for three decades, until the current owners took it over in 1996. In a statement they wrote to the home’s current owners, they noted, “The house is assuredly not haunted!”
The current homeowners have maintained the 4,624-square-foot abode while making timely additions. They added insulation and new heaters, a few bathroom upgrades and “historically appropriate” paint colors. The updated kitchen now offers stainless-steel appliances and a center island. In addition, the home’s pine floors have been carefully restored. And an early original feature, interior privacy pocket shutters, are still in use.
With no historic landmark restrictions, this structure could be changed by the next owner. But that would be a bit of heresy, as far as we’re concerned.
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