The Fairbanks House, Dedham

4.8
#2 of 7 in Things to do in Dedham
Architectural Building · Hidden Gem · Historic Site
The Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts is an historic house built between 1637 and 1641 making it the oldest surviving timber-frame house in North America that has been verified by dendrochronology testing. Puritan settler Jonathan Fairebanke constructed the farm house for his wife Grace (Lee Smith) and their family. The house was occupied and then passed down through eight generations of the family until the early 20th century. Over several centuries the original portion was expanded as architectural styles changed and the family grew.
Today the Fairbanks house is owned and operated by the Fairbanks Family in America, a member-based non-profit organization, as a historic house museum. The Family Association has preserved, studied and interpreted their ancestral home and its collections for over 90 years. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house was built in several stages; the center portion of the present house is oldest, with a gable-roofed portion at the center. It was once a lobby-entry, hall-parlor house of two stories with a center chimney bay. The lean-to was added later, contrary to the note on the first floor plan (see image on left).
The oldest section of the house was completed by at least 1641, based on dendrochronology of several beams in the house. The summer beam has been dated to 1637, and other wall boards and beams were dated to 1638, 1640 and 1641. Other American houses claiming to be older have yet to be scientifically dated, and the Fairbanks House is almost universally regarded as the oldest house in New England.
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The Fairbanks House reviews

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4.9
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  • Take the haunted house tour and also the regular tour. Museum curator is superb historian who respects the lingering spirits in this very old abode.  more »
  • I’m a member of The Fairbanks Garden Club in Dedham MA. We named ourself after The Fairbanks House - the oldest timberframe house left in America. We help maintain the historic gardens on the...  more »
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  • We found out years ago while researching our family tree that my husbands 12xs great grandparents had this house built and it has been on our bucket list. We finally got there and LOVED it. So much history packed into one home. My kids 5-10, my husband, our friend and myself all found it to be so interesting we've been talking about it ever since we left. The docent was very knowledgeable and a wonderful conversationalist. We even got to meet the curator and speak briefly with him, this was a treat.
  • Fabulous tour. Worth the trip. Curator very knowledgable about the home, the area and the founding families.
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