Historic Building of the Week: 3 Bowden Street

Detail of the Sept. 1901 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map. 3 Bowden St is labelled with a 3. The shed and back section are both visible. Photo by Library of Congress

If the color of the house at 3 Bowden St. doesn’t make it stand out to you, perhaps the style will.

Aside from the bright pinkish-red paint, the exterior of 3 Bowden St. is stunning in other ways. Built sometime in the mid 1850s, the house is a great example of Italianate-style residential architecture – one of the more popular architecture styles in the 19th century. This particular building is an Italian Villa version of Italianate style. Indicative of this architecture is the pronounced overhanging eave and paired brackets on the low-slope, if not flat, roof, as well as the cube-like main body of the house. 

According to the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) documents, the house retains much of its original building materials and those that have been replaced are period-appropriate. For example, the entrance doorway is lit by full sidelights and transom that “appear to be original.” The windows, while not original, have the appropriate two-over-two light sash configuration.

If the appearance of the house still is not interesting enough, perhaps you will enjoy the story of a former resident.

MACRIS states that Nathan P. Sanborn purchased the plot of land from Thomas and Joseph Bowden in 1854, who were local carpenters, land speculators, and developers in the mid 19th century. Sanborn, born in the mid 1820s, was from the namesake family of Sanbornton, N.H. and moved to Marblehead in 1848. Here, he became an active architect and took particular interest in growing various institutions across town.

Sanborn was a “principal promoter and incorporator” of the Marblehead Savings Bank and served as its first vice president. He was also a director of the National Grand Bank, president of the Marblehead Board of Trade, a one-term selectman, and Marblehead School Committee member. 

Furthermore, Sanborn served as the first president of the Marblehead Historical Society, which organized on May 9, 1898, and was incorporated on March 15, 1902. As a part of the society, he authored articles which it then published. 

After Sanborn’s death in 1911, his son Nathan W. sold the house to William P. Chisholm.

If you are not interested in this building yet with its history, architecture, and pop of color, I do not know what else to say!