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Preservation of Cambridge’s Oldest House

Cooper-Frost-Austin House


Cambridge MA

Completion Date


Project type


DREAM was hired by Historic New England to perform a feasibility study for the Cooper Frost Austin House Museum. The house is the oldest dwelling standing in the City of Cambridge.

Built by Samuel Cooper in 1681, the house is one of the earliest examples of an integral lean-to “half-house.” Shortly after Samuel Cooper’s death in 1718, his son Walter extended the house to the west, thus completing the main block of the house and presenting the current symmetrical façade. Succeeding generations undertook various alterations to both the interior and exterior.

After being used primarily as a residence for over four decades and rarely being open to the public, DREAM is working alongside museum staff to discuss preservation, innovation, and community-focused programming. The study includes an evaluation of the evaluation of the existing conditions, an evaluation use of the site use and accessibility a space layout to achieve the goal of a 1st floor public programmatic space and 2nd floor apartment rental, and a review of local zoning and building codes.