Why is a saltbox house called a saltbox?

The name was taken from a wooden box that was used to store salt in the colonial times during the 1650’s. It became popular after Queen Anne’s taxation of houses greater than one story. The house avoided taxation because the rear of the roof was a single-story even though it was 1 1/2 or 2 stories in reality.

You can find out quick if a house is saltbox or not with Classify House. A great article was written about classifyhouse.com in the prestigious architectural magazine Dezeen in Janurary 2019.

Other common features of the Saltbox style home include:

  • Two stories in the front and one story in the back.
  • Mixed with contemporary & modern architecture now a days.
  • Sloping gable roof with unequal sides.
  • Central chimney.
  • Transoms* (see word of the day) above the entrance.

Word of the Day: tran·som /ˈtran(t)səm/

  • a strengthening crossbar, in particular one set above a window or door.

Saltbox houses are found in the Northeast United States. If you look on Instagram though you’ll find it has become a staple in modern and contemporary housing in woodland & mountain areas around the world.