Samuel Cooper built the chimney bay and eastern rooms, now the earliest surviving dwelling in Cambridge and perhaps the first extant in New England to incorporate an original rear lean-to. (The house was accurately dated by a dendrochronology study in 2002.) The lean-to has a purlin roof with rafters framed into cantilevered tie beams. After 1718, his son Walter Cooper enlarged the house into a prototypical central chimney, lobby entrance, five-room floor plan, perhaps adding sash windows then to unify the appearance. He added a rear fireplace flue, supporting recent scholarship that relocation of the kitchen to the rear lean-to was generally an eighteenth-century phenomenon in New England, but physical evidence of an earlier end oven removed when the addition was built suggests, perhaps, an older end lean-to as well. Later owners removed the original front stairs, added a one-story projecting porch, and made other modest decorative changes between 1807 and 1816, but the rear stairs and its partition wall to an unheated lean-to room are original. The exposed and elaborately decorated frame of the original front rooms, partially restored in 1912, plus decorative pilasters on the original chimney stack above the ridgeline make this house one of the finest examples of late-seventeenth-century timber-framed architecture outside Essex County. In 1911 the Cooper-Frost-Austin House was acquired by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England, Inc.), and is maintained as a study house, open to the public by appointment.
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