• James Walsh

History Lost: 19 Shaw Road

Updated: May 31, 2020

As a kid, I always referred to 19 Shaw Road as the "rocket-ship house" due to the three-story, octagonal tower that dominated its front façade. Its position at the top of Elwell Avenue's steep climb made it appear even taller than it was.

The neighborhood around Shaw Road, just south of Bridgewater State University's campus, was originally open land between Summer and Plymouth Streets. The majority of the land was owned by A.H. Ward and John Shaw, who was the second minister at the First Congregational Church in Central Square.

During the late 19th century, Park Avenue was built and divided the land along the border of the Ward and Shaw estates. By 1903, the Ward estate had been subdivided into Boyden Park and several smaller lots along Shaw Road and Elwell Avenue (named after A.J. Elwell, whose home still stands at 188 Summer Street). Parts of Elwell Avenue were later renamed Park Terrace and Shaw Road (extension).


Within a few years, the neighborhood was further subdivided when Clinton Washburn sectioned 19, 29, and 35 Shaw Road off from the rear of his estate at 204 Summer Street. 19 Shaw Road was built circa 1910.


The neighborhood, including 19 Shaw Road, changed little until the mid 20th century, when Bridgewater State's campus began expanding south along Park Avenue. The Brutalist-modern Clement C. Maxwell Library, completed in 1973, faces Shaw Road, likely because BSU planners expected the campus to continue expanding south.

Although the campus instead expanded east, across the train tracks, Bridgewater State purchased 19 Shaw Road in 2011. The lot was subsequently razed and is now a parking lot.

19 Shaw Road, 2020. Photo by James Walsh.
19 Shaw Road, 2020.

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