The original house had casement windows, which, according to a Boardman family descendant, were made “of small diamond shaped panes of very poor glass” and were stored in the attic of the house when he was a child in the mid-nineteenth century. Also now missing from the house are the pendants that traditionally adorned the corners of the front overhang. An old resident of Saugus in 1914 remembered them as being in the form of “twisted tassels,” but unfortunately the pendants are not documented in any existing photographs.
Sometime between 1692, when the house was built, and 1696, a lean-to kitchen was added to the house. We know this because William Boardman died in 1696 at the age of thirty-eight, and an inventory of the house at that time includes the rooms of the lean-to and their contents. The unusual timing of this construction, with the lean-to being added only a few years after the original house was built, supplies us with some of the most important architectural evidence in the house, as the addition was attached to the existing house in such a way that the original clapboards, skirt board, and roof boards were preserved.
The 1696 inventory also gives information about the Boardman family and the way that they lived in their house. The 1692 hall, with its massive hearth for cooking and beehive ovens, was called the “best room” in 1696, when the food preparation activities had moved out into the kitchen in the new lean-to, accompanied by a milk room, or dairy. The specialization of household spaces which was taking place in new houses in the eighteenth century was in evidence here, as the work of the house began to be separated from social activities.
Upon William Boardman’s death, the property passed to his son, William Jr., with Boardman’s daughters Mary and Lydia passing their rights in the farm to their brother. William Boardman Jr. appears to have spent the greater part of his life on the farm, marrying in 1708 and having at least eight children. It was during the lifetime of William Jr. that further renovations were made to the house, including updating the front stair hall with an open banister and paneling in the early eighteenth century. Dendrochronology has also revealed that the entire lean-to addition was reconstructed in 1731.
However, over the following two centuries, very little was changed, and features that remained untouched by the family are now valuable elements of architectural evidence. Ceiling joists and brickwork that were never plastered over, seventeenth-century shadow-molded sheathing, original stairs, and floorboards all contribute to the remarkable document that is Boardman House.