Possibly designed by Nathaniel Virgin, the housewright who built it, the Sarah Foster Colburn House imaginatively combines Greek and Gothic Revival elements in the two-and-a-half-story gable end fronting the street. Fluted Doric columns below support a rich array of Gothic Revival trim above. Twin lancet arched openings cut into flush board siding frame the iron balconies with stylized Greek floral ornament. Lancet arched windows and vergeboard complete the fanciful composition of the facade.
The Colburn House arose as part of a development of Dana Hill by Isaac Livermore on the site of the eighteenth-century Dana Mansion that burned in 1839. While Nathaniel Virgin constructed 7 Dana Street, Livermore apparently erected the house at 5 Dana Street around the same time. Although similar in size, 5 Dana Street remains a traditional Cape Cod configuration embellished with a Doric portico across the principal facade. The three large dormers—one with a segmental-arched roof and two with gable roofs—may have been added later.