The borough of Bridgewater, two blocks wide and eight blocks long on the western shore of the Beaver River, has been joined by a bridge to the eastern shore since 1816. The town was laid out in 1818 by innkeeper Joseph Hemphill, whose house still exists at 815 Market Street. When the Beaver River was canalized between 1834 and 1872, Bridgewater grew faster than its neighbors, Rochester and the borough of Beaver. Nearly thirty buildings from the canal era survive, including the Greek Revival mansion built for the Davidson family in 1835 (now Sweetwater Hill apartments; 1319 Riverside Drive). Tucked behind middle-class houses on Market Street, it overlooks the Beaver River and the site of the Davidsons' former sawmills and gristmills. The H-shaped two-story house has Ionic columns supporting double recessed porches on the west elevation, triple recessed porches on the east, and Flemish bond brickwork throughout.
After the canal closed and the railroad passed west of the borough in 1874, twentieth-century automobile traffic generally bypassed Bridgewater. Bridge Street became the site of most commercial development, and its red brick Greek Revival and Italianate stores give the town its distinctive appearance. Unfortunately, most of Bridge Street's south side has been demolished for new commercial construction. On two perpendicular streets, a handsome new fire station (2001; 619 Market Street) blends successfully with such older buildings as the red brick town houses at 905–911 Riverside Drive.
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