Washburn Drugstore and Dentist Office

67 Central Sq

1875

Architectural Style

Italianate

Significance

Architecture, Commerce

Use Type

Commercial Block, Professional Office

Neighborhood

Bridgewater Town Center

Massachusetts Historical Commission Report

Architectural Significance

This frame Italianate structure was apparantly built to house a store on the ground floor and offices on the 2nd floor. Rising 2 1/2 stories to a gable roof with return eaves, this building's main facade features a ground floor storefront (late 19th c. enframement, modern glass and metal elements), two double cornice headed windows on the 2nd floor and a pair of small round headed windows at attic level. To the rear is a long 1 story addition which apparantly dates to the early 20th c. This building appears on late 19th/early 20th c. maps as part of the Tory House's (next door) inverted U-shaped complex of sheds, stables, storage areas, etc. Architecturally this building is of interest as a commercial/business block which is of a decidedly domestic scale. Stylistically and structurally it is similar to the Bowman Block on the east side of the common (40 Central Square).

Historical Significance

This Italianate commercial/office building was erected c. 1875 for Dr. Nahum Washburn, "the pioneer in the practice of dentistry in Southeastern MA," It was apparantly built a
year or so after a plan of 1874 showing Dr. Washburn's House (the Old Tory House) and the Central Square Congregational Church. It first appears on a Plymouth Co. Atlas of 1879. Late 19th c. atlases indicate that it contained a drug store on the ground floor and dentist office on the 2nd floor — both store and office were originally owned by Dr. Nahum Washburn. Born in Bridgewater in 1806, he was "fitted for college" at the Academy in Bridgewater and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1832. In 1835 he became a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He subsequently studied dentistry and conducted a practice in Bridgewater spanning 40 years. His patronage extended beyond the borders of the state. It was said that "his rare conversational gift dissipated much of the dread that usually surrounded the dentist's chair." In addition he invented delicate dental intruments as well as a mill for grinding rock crystal for the manufacture of teeth. Although "never an active participant in public affairs, he was well read — his shafts of wit and sarcasm were never withheld against the follies of his time." He died December 28, 1883.