Early New England Colonial 1640-1780
The Judge Corwin House, built in Salem in 1675, is an example of the late Medieval house form, similar to English houses of the 17th century with its great wall dormers and upper floor overhangs. The windows are casements with leaded glass.
Just as English housing styles were changing from the late medieval Tudor to Classically inspired Renaissance designs, the first wave of Pilgrims and Puritans came to New England and began building houses with which they were familiar.
These earliest structures show much medieval influence; steep roofs; unpainted clapboard or shingle walls; little applied decoration and a massive chimney. During the 18th century, the new Renaissance style, here known as Georgian, began to be seen in urban areas and in homes of the wealthy, but medieval building practices continued in rural areas and in modest dwellings right up to the Revolutionary War.
The medieval legacy is one of organic building, natural materials locally found, and design determined by need rather than by principles of style. Unpainted wood predominates; most paint, plaster and masonry belongs to 18th century work. Because these houses were simple, small and crude, very few remain, and most of these have been restored and preserved as historic sites. The most humble are of one room with a fireplace and chimney at one end. More frequent is the two room plan with the chimney centered behind the entrance and three-run stair leading to a loft or second story sleeping rooms. Massive fireplaces face into the first floor rooms. If means allow, a room, or rooms, may later be added across the back and the rear roof extended to create the familiar saltbox look. This new back room usually became the kitchen, and a fireplace and flue were added to the center chimney. Even in the earliest days, the one room plan, the two room (Cape Cod), lean-to or saltbox and full two story plans were known because all had been developed in England earlier, but many years were to pass before all these forms appeared in New England.