Counties with the oldest homes in Massachusetts

Written by:
August 27, 2022
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history can sometimes come with a cost: Many old homes come with asbestos, lead piping, knob-and-tube wiring, and other outdated building styles that can rack up a hefty price tag to modernize.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 according to 2020 5-year estimates. Ties broken by the highest percentage of homes built 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

- Median year homes built: 1984
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 15.9% (1,990 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 21.1% (2,637 homes)
- Total homes built: 12,498
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Jwgetchell // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Dukes County

- Median year homes built: 1982
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 16.4% (2,957 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 16.7% (3,007 homes)
- Total homes built: 18,030
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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#12. Barnstable County

- Median year homes built: 1976
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 12.2% (20,016 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 10.4% (17,113 homes)
- Total homes built: 164,064
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Schlitzer90 // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Plymouth County

- Median year homes built: 1970
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 23.2% (48,363 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 13.8% (28,720 homes)
- Total homes built: 208,056
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John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Hampshire County

- Median year homes built: 1967
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 27.4% (17,554 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 10.5% (6,741 homes)
- Total homes built: 64,114

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Worcester County

- Median year homes built: 1965
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 29.4% (98,912 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.8% (39,816 homes)
- Total homes built: 336,533
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Jameslwoodward // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Norfolk County

- Median year homes built: 1963
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 26.8% (75,067 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.7% (32,821 homes)
- Total homes built: 280,180
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Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger) // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Bristol County

- Median year homes built: 1962
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 32.8% (77,515 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 9.7% (22,852 homes)
- Total homes built: 236,043
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Jellymuffin40 // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Middlesex County

- Median year homes built: 1960
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 32.7% (209,902 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 12.0% (76,636 homes)
- Total homes built: 641,278
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Bobak // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Essex County

- Median year homes built: 1959
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 36.0% (112,926 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 9.9% (31,173 homes)
- Total homes built: 313,956

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AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Franklin County

- Median year homes built: 1959
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 36.2% (12,351 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 7.6% (2,608 homes)
- Total homes built: 34,164
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#3. Hampden County

- Median year homes built: 1957
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 30.2% (58,563 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 6.3% (12,182 homes)
- Total homes built: 193,713
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Protophobic // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Berkshire County

- Median year homes built: 1954
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 37.7% (26,073 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 6.9% (4,782 homes)
- Total homes built: 69,149
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#1. Suffolk County

- Median year homes built: 1942
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 48.7% (166,271 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 12.2% (41,599 homes)
- Total homes built: 341,231

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