So why is it called The Saltbox House? Salt was necessary for preserving food, and so it was a valuable commodity in colonial America. Salt was expensive, and it caked-up easily. To prevent this, special saltboxes were designed that were supposed to be hung by the hearth to keep the salt dried out.
The profile of the Saltbox is its most distinctive feature and bore a substantial resemblance to the saltbox on the hearth. Seen from the gable ends, its short front roof and long slanting back roof (“lean-to”) give it the appearance of an old salt container, and thus the name.
The design of the Saltbox was practical. Since most early Cape Style homes faced south, the back roof bore the brunt of the winter storms from the north. Heat was conserved inside, and snow slid easily to the ground.
The Hoxie House in Sandwich (image below) may have been built as early as 1637, and qualifies as the oldest surviving house on Cape Cod. It is a beautifully restored example of an early Saltbox and open to the public – Check it out!!