Counties with the oldest homes in Massachusetts

Written by:
September 12, 2021
Protophobic // Wikimedia Commons

Counties with the oldest homes in Massachusetts

There's an undeniable charm that comes with pre-World War II American architecture, characterized by high ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors, and ornate details. In fact, 12.8% of all housing units in America were built in 1939 or before, showing the popularity of the preservation of these units. Owning a piece of history can sometimes come with a cost: Many old homes come with asbestos, lead piping, knob-and-tube wiring, and other outdated building styles that can rack up a hefty price tag to modernize. However, with more and more modernized pre-war homes on the market, generally located just outside bustling downtown metros, investing in property that has withstood the test of time is an attractive prospect.

Stacker compiled a list of the counties in Massachusetts with the oldest homes using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by median year the structure was built, with ties broken by the most homes before 1939.

The country’s domestic architecture is perhaps best characterized by a rugged individualism as opposed to the hybridization of disparate architectural elements. As Maya Angelou once perceptively observed, "the ache for home lives in all of us," a phrase that has meant very different things to different people.

Modest or palatial, there is no shortage of noteworthy homes in the U.S. Log cabins constructed by industrious pioneers have dotted the landscape alongside traditional Native American dwellings ever since immigrant Swedes introduced them to the New World in 1638. The unprecedented personal fortunes amassed by the so-called "Robber Barons" at the close of the 19th century gave way to the construction of a staggering number of Gilded Age estates.

The ravages of time spared neither the sumptuous nor the humble. Stately mansions, often prohibitively costly to maintain in the modern era, were frequently neglected; simple structures were forgotten, discarded by their owners, and damaged by natural elements. However, the tireless efforts of architectural preservationists and local historical societies have saved many of these homes from demolition, leading to their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and thereby safeguarding them for future generations.

Keep reading to learn more about which counties in Massachusetts have the oldest homes.

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thisisbossi // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Nantucket County

- Median year homes built: 1985
--- #2,527 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.5%
--- #1,293 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 12,345
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Jwgetchell // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Dukes County

- Median year homes built: 1982
--- #2,158 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 16.8%
--- #1,157 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 17,902
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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#12. Barnstable County

- Median year homes built: 1975
--- #1,306 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 12.4%
--- #1,457 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 163,557
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Schlitzer90 // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Plymouth County

- Median year homes built: 1969
--- #764 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 23.8%
--- #707 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 207,003
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John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Hampshire County

- Median year homes built: 1967
--- #656 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 26.9%
--- #542 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 63,873
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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Worcester County

- Median year homes built: 1963
--- #465 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 30.8%
--- #363 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 335,104
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Jameslwoodward // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Norfolk County

- Median year homes built: 1962
--- #435 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 26.6%
--- #557 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 278,615
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Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger) // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Bristol County

- Median year homes built: 1961
--- #360 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 33.3%
--- #264 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 235,275
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Jellymuffin40 // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Middlesex County

- Median year homes built: 1959
--- #285 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 33.4%
--- #256 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 636,543
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AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Franklin County

- Median year homes built: 1959
--- #279 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 36.5%
--- #168 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 34,134
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Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

#4. Hampden County

- Median year homes built: 1957
--- #227 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 30.5%
--- #375 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 193,586
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Bobak // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Essex County

- Median year homes built: 1957
--- #210 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 37.5%
--- #144 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 312,992
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Protophobic // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Berkshire County

- Median year homes built: 1953
--- #99 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 39.1%
--- #106 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 69,079
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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#1. Suffolk County

- Median year homes built: 1941
--- #8 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 49.4%
--- #8 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 337,251

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