This large Second Empire house was built by 1865 for John Armitage and his wife Nancy. Not long before they built this large estate, which was once on over five acres of land, John became a partner in Edward Pranker & Co. (also known as the Iroquois Mills) in Saugus. In 1838, Edward Pranker, an English-born textile manufacturer from Salem, New Hampshire purchased a vacant mill property on bond and established a flannel and bed sheet manufacturing business. He renovated the mill and installed new machinery. Although the conditions of the wool business in general were extremely poor during the mill’s first years of operation, the business was a success. In 1840, he was able to pay off the bond on the property. By 1846, Pranker’s business had grown so much that he had to build a second mill. Pranker died in 1865 and Armitage left the company soon after, beginning his career in politics. In 1870, he served as a district representative for some Essex County towns. After Pranker and Nancy’s death, the house was willed to their two youngest (and unwed) daughters Carrie (a dressmaker) and Laura (a teacher).
This house is an excellent example of the Second Empire/Italianate architecture style. For one, it has a Mansard roof. Additionally, it has a bracketed cornice which is interrupted by a central gable. Ornate window and door trim paired with a color scheme to accentuate the details, make this home stand out, even though its obscured by shrubs.