Carver, Washburn and Company Office

16 Summer St

1830

Architectural Style

Federal, Greek Revival

Significance

Architecture, Industry

Use Type

Business Office

Neighborhood

Bridgewater Town Center

Massachusetts Historical Commission Report

Architectural Significance

The northeastern segment of this structure was built c. 1830—its simplicity of design and straightforward use of building materials belies its significance as the office of a leading 19th c. American cotton-gin manufacturing company. Rising 1 1/2 stories to a gable roof, its windows are simply enframed. Rear segments apparently date the 1890's and 20th century. This early office structure's siting is of particular interest. Its western facade overlooks asphalt paved areas and a modern gas station. Its north and eastern walls are adjacent to a low rubble stone retaining wall of considerable age and an old, dead tree—when viewed from Summer Street. The old segment of the offices, together with its landscape features provide a remarkably intact glimpse of mid-19th century Bridgewater.

Historical Significance

Built c. 1830, this unpretentious frame structure is probably Bridgewater's oldest extant office building. It has significant historical associations with Carver, Washburn and Co., a leading 19th century cotton gin manufacturer. During the first half of the 19th century, this company's influence was world-wide in scope. Its founders, Eleazer Carver, Nathaniel Washburn and Artemas Hale were among the town's leading businesses and political figures.

Eleazer Carver was born in Bridgewater in 1785. During the early 1800's he travelled extensively throughout the South—in the course of his travels he acquired a knowledge of the cotton business and "examined a model of the Whitney Cotton Gin in
Washington before the burning of the Capital." He returned to Bridgewater in 1817, worked briefly for the Lazell, Perkins Iron Works and greatly improved the cotton gin. In 1820, he became associated with Artemas Hale and Nathaniel Washburn in the enterprise which became known as Carver, Hale and Nathaniel Washburn & Co. By the 1830's the Carver gin had become "the leading machine throughout the South." The company's main building was located near Carver Pond. Its "in-town" offices were conveniently located next to the Bridgewater Inn—known for many years as "Squire Hale's store" this structure is labeled C. & W. Co. on an 1852 map—4 years after the company was dissolved by Eleazer Carver. In 1879 B.T. Crocker's Drugstore was housed in this building. An 1896 insurance map indicated that this building contained a "Drug store, office and express offices." During the early 1900's, Hosea Kingman, an influential attorney and landowner owned this property. By 1910 the Cholerton Insurance Agency was located here.