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Keith, Robert House

515 Lakeside Dr


Architectural Style



Agriculture, Archaeology, Historic, Architecture

Use Type

Agricultural, Single Family Dwelling House


Massachusetts Historical Commission Report

Architectural Significance

The Robert Keith House, located at 515 Lakeside Drive, is a circa 1783 Georgian style house located in the northwest quadrant of Bridgewater, MA. The Keith house sits on a roughly rectangular parcel of more than 41 acres of farmland on the east bank of Lake Nippenicket. The property is located on the north side of Lakeside Drive at its terminus, approximately six-tenths of a mile east of Route 24. The property is bounded to the north and east by the Hockomock Swamp Wildlife Refuge Area, a 45,000-acre wildlife refuge managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To the south of the property is a late-twentieth-century residential neighborhood of large lots with single-family houses. To the west of the property is Lakeside drive and Lake Nippenicket. The Keith house and its associated outbuildings, including two barns and two sheds, are located in the northwest quadrant of the property and are surrounded by a manicured lawn. To the north and east of the buildings is an open field that is bordered by a thick stand of mature deciduous and evergreen trees. A dry-laid stone wall runs along the west and north edges of the property.

The main house is a two-story, Georgian-style building with a rear ell and an attached garage. The main block of the house has a moderately pitched hip roof that terminates at a lower pitched section in the center. The roof is clad with composition asphalt shingles and has slightly overhanging eaves. A large, reconstructed brick chimney rises from the west slope at the junction with the shallow hip roof section. There was originally a second chimney located on the opposite slope, but it has been removed. The building has a post-and-beam structural system and the exterior walls are clad with clapboard on the south elevation and west side, and wood shingles on the north elevation and east side. Wide boards define the corners of the walls. The house is constructed on a granite rubblestone foundation that is partially parged.

The facade (south elevation) is 5-bays wide and features a central entrance with an 8-panel door topped by a 5-light transom. The entrance has a gable pediment and pilaster surround. A single double-hung sash window with 12/12 lights is located above the entrance in the second story. The outer bays consist of two ranks of 12/12 double-hung sash windows. The windows of the western two bays are set closer together than those of the eastern bays, giving the facade a slightly asymmetrical appearance. All of the windows on the facade have decorative shutters and are set in rectangular wood surrounds with slightly overhanging lintels and sills.

The ell extends northward from the northwest corner of the house. It is two-and-one-half-stories tall and three bays wide and has a gable roof. A brick chimney rises from the center of the roof ridge. The north elevation of the ell is asymmetrical and consists of one double-hung sash window with 12/12 lights in each story and a rear entrance to the building on the northeast corner. A one-story addition with an attached one-story garage addition is attached to the northwest corner of the ell. The south elevation of the garage has four bays, with a single garage door, two double-hung windows and an entry door. A small cupola with weather vane is centered on the ridge of the garage roof.

The property contains two barns that appear to date from the late nineteenth century. Barn No. 1, which was severely deteriorated when it was initially surveyed in November 2005 and has since been demolished, was located southeast of the main house off the circular drive. It had a side gable roof and a post and beam structural system. The roof was clad with pressed metal shingles and the walls were surfaced with wood shingles. The barn was built into an embankment and had a rubble stone foundation on the northwestern end. The southeastern half of the barn was open underneath with the floor supported by steel posts. Large rectangular openings with sliding vertical plank doors allowed wagons to drive through the center of the building. Fenestration consisted of 2/2-light double-hung sash windows and 2-light awning windows. When it was originally surveyed, the barn's southeast corner had partially collapsed.

This house ranks among the finest examples of Georgian domestic architecture in southeastern Massachusetts. It is composed of a rectangular center hall main block with a massive hip roof and a 1 1/2 story 19th c. west ell (with garage). Its 5 bay main facade and 6 bay sidewalls exhibit windows with 12/12 wood sash. Particularly noteworthy is the main, south facing entrance with Doric pilasters, 5-pane transom and well crafted pediment. Two tall chimneys project from the western roof slope. Originally dormers were located on the south and west slopes. Interesting interior features include a formal entry and hall with a long "shallow pitched" stairway, a paneled fireplace wall, complex attic framing and the 19th century ell's summer kitchen with fireplace and bake oven. The ell's entrance exhibits Greek Revival enframements. Together with its frame structures and landscape features, 515 Lakeside Drive provides an unspoiled glimpse of a late 18th c. Bridgewater farm.

Historical Significance

This house's land was part of John Washburn's share of the early grants. In 1735, Moses Washburn, John Washburn's grandson, sold this property to Samuel Keith, son of Reverend James Keith. Samuel's grandson Robert Keith built this house
c. 1783. Born in 1742, Robert was a Minute Man in Capt. Nathan Mitchell's company in April, 1775. By the 1830s this house belonged to an "S. and S. Keith." During the 1870s Sylvanus Keith, farmer, lived here. His address is listed in the 1874/75 directory as "Fruit opposite Nippenicket Pond." Fruit St. was renamed Nippenicket Pond in the 1880s or 1890s. By the early 1900s, Edwin E. Keith, farmer, resided here. In 1948, the house was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Richardson, which ended the 213 year ownership of the property by the Keith family. In 1958 the Richardson's sold the house to Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Beaton (Doherty 1976:167).

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