Mitchell Block

40 Central Sq

1862

Architectural Style

Italianate

Significance

Architecture, Commerce, Education

Use Type

College or University, Commercial Block, Tavern

Neighborhood

Bridgewater Town Center

Massachusetts Historical Commission Report

Architectural Significance

This block is composed of 4 segments—two 2 1/2 story frame Italianate structures joined by a central 1-story frame segment—a 1 story brick store projects from its north wall. The 2 main blocks were apparently joined c. 1860s-1879. Both main blocks are characterized by large glass display windows and wide gables. Of interest is the rhythm created by the gables of this double structure and those of the Italianate Fairbanks block next door and the Town Hall.

NOTE: The 2nd floor's original cornice leaded windows have been replaced by modern, horizontal band windows. Still intact is the northern block's interesting, boldly enframed tripartite window—apparently the work of an imaginative country housewright.

Historical Significance

Built c. 1860-1865, this frame Italianate structure has housed commercial concerns, a school, and lodging rooms. Variously served as a Teachers' training school (until 1891). An 1884 insurance map indicates that this building's various sections contained a dry goods store, Tailor and "B. & S."—to the rear was a separate brick storage facility. By 1891 this brick store-room had been converted to a "lock-up"—apparently because of its proximity to the Town Hall and Fire Department.

Apparently this structure was also known as the Mitchell Block during the 1870s and 1880s. By the early 1900s this block housed a clothing store, millinery shop and jewelry store—its owner was the prominent Bridgewater merchant, A.J. Elwell. By 1906 the brick "lock-up" abutted an extended rear wall. In that year this building's upper floors contained lodging rooms.

Architecturally this "double-building"represents an interesting and probably rare building type—the mid-19th century school/commercial block. During the 1860s and 1870s Central Square experienced a building boom which resulted in the construction of the Fairbanks Prophett Block, the Masonic Building, "The Liquor Mart" building as well as #40 Central Square.

Further research is to determine if the northern segment of this block was, in fact, a school house moved to this site in 1891.