Stetson, Nahum House

19 Summer St

1820

Architectural Style

Federal

Significance

Architecture

Use Type

Single Family Dwelling House

Neighborhood

Bridgewater Town Center

Massachusetts Historical Commission Report

Architectural Significance

Essentially T-shaped in plan, this dignified late Federal style house is constructed of wood. A handsome porch displaying Tuscan columns wraps around the front of this house. It is 2 stories tall and is crowned by a low hip roof. Its 5-bay main facade is characterized by tall windows and an elegant fan light topped main entrance at the northwestern corner. In general its windows' 6/6 wood sash are intact. Abutting the rear wings western wall is a large 19th c. barn.

Historical Significance

This house has significant historical associations with Nahum Stetson, a leading 19th century Southeastern Massachusetts businessman. He played a leading role in the early development of Lazell, Perkins Ironworks and was a generous benefactor of the First Parish Church and Bridgewater Academy. This house was a product of the accelerated building activity which took place in Bridgewater during the 1820's—a building boom precipitated by the incorporation of Bridgewater as a separate town in 1822.

Built c. 1820, this house's builder is said to have been Almarine Howard. It was initially owned by Nathaniel Washburn, a founder of Carver Washburn Co. Nahum Stetson paid Washburn $3,200 for "the house and barn" on this property in October, 1831. Nahum Washburn was born in East Bridgewater, MA, August 21, 1807. His family was "noted for its mechanical ingenuity." Educated at Bridgewater Academy, Stetson became an employee of Lazell, Perkins & Co. in 1825 at age 18. By 1835 he had become the treasurer of this nationally important ironworks. During the Civil War, under Stetson's leadership, this company (by that time "The Bridgewater Ironworks") provided the armor plating for the Union gunboat "The Monitor." In addition, Mr. Stetson held a staggering number of treasurerships and directorships of Southeastern Massachusetts companies—including The Weymouth Ironworks, Parker Mills (Wareham), Dean Cotton Machine Co. (Taunton), Bristol County Bank (Taunton), Taunton Locomotive Works, Providence Iron Co. and the Old Colony Ironworks (East Taunton). Understandably enough, he had little time for involvement in state politics. He was a supporter of the Whig and Republican parties and represented Bridgewater in the State Legislature from 1838-1839. Involved in agricultural pursuits, Stetrson operated a large and productive farm renowned for having "some of the best blooded cattle." The extensive greenhouses on the grounds of his Summer Street home were a major late 19th century Bridgewater tourist attraction. Distinguished visitors to the Stetson home included Daniel Webster and Robert C. Winthrop. By the 1890's their house was owned by Nahum's son, John M. Stetson.