Description by Historic New England
On March 29 of 1837, mariner Richard Lakeman purchased the empty plot of land on which the Lakeman-Johnson House now stands from John Newmarch. The house was built sometime between the land purchase in 1837 and the sale of the property in 1846 when Lakeman sold the land “with the dwelling house and other buildings thereon,” to his brother, Captain Ebenezer “Eben” Lakeman, also a mariner and ship captain. In 1854, Ebenezer constructed a kitchen ell at the back of he house. In 1885, upon Ebenezer’s death, his widow and children, George and Sarah, remained in the house. George was a carpenter and may have contributed to the decorative elements in the house. Sarah survived her mother and brother, but upon her death in 1937, deeded the house to her cousin, Arthur W. Johnson, who, in 1947, left it to the Society for the Protection of New England Antiquities, SPNEA. During his ownership, antiquarian Johnson removed a section of paneling from a neighboring Lakeman House and installed it in the East Parlor of the Lakeman-Johnson House. In 1981, the property was sold by SPNEA to Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. and Elizabeth Nielsen.
The building retains its original character and is an example of a Greek Revival style in its decorative finishes. The form reflects earlier Georgian features- a rectangular, double-pile plan with a central entry and windows and doors arranged symmetrically in five bays. Key features on the exterior include surviving 2-over-2 and tripartite windows, three-part post-and lintel entry door with Greek Key motifs resembling the designs of Asher Benjamin, and heavy cornerboards and side-gable cornice ends. At the interior, simple rectangular window and door frames reflect the Greek Revival style, most with triple beading and rectangular cornerblocks. Interior 4-panel doors remain, several of which retain decorative faux graining. The interior staircase remains and reflects the Georgian efficiency of a U-shaped form with the un-turned, round balusters of the Greek Revival mode. It is an important example of Greek Revival architecture, materials and workmanship in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In recognition of these qualities, the Lakeman-Johnson was designated as part of the East End National Register Historic District in 1980.
The Lakeman-Johnson House is comprised of a two-and-one-half story, southwest-facing main block (the “Main Block”), a two-story ell (the “Ell”) attached to the northeast elevation of the Main Block, and a two-story addition (unprotected) attached to the northeast elevation of the Main Block. There is currently one shed structure on the property. The open space of the Premises protected by this agreement consists primarily of open lawn and gardens and provides a natural setting that complements the historic structures on the Premises, thereby endowing the Lakeman-Johnson House with scenic, natural and aesthetic value and significance.
The house has an Asher Benjamin derived door frame at the center of its symmetrical 5 bay façade. Benjamin was an American architectural writer whose designs combined Federal style architecture and the later Greek Revival style, a classical appearance popular throughout New England until the Civil War. The frontispiece was adapted from 2 Asher Benjamin designs found in The Practice of Architecture, plates 26 and 28, printed in 1833.