Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about the property in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. 1:
The sightly residence of Moritz B. Philipp crowns the rugged eminence known in Mr. Hubbard’s day and from the earliest times as Rocky Hill. The earliest name associated with the Hill is that of Humphrey Griffin. He was a man of humble birth seemingly and with small store of worldly goods, when he knocked at the door of the little settlement. He found little favor, as the matter of his coming was debated in Town meeting in 1639 and the result was, “The Town doth refuse to receive Humphrey Griffin as an Inhabitant, to provide for him as inhabitants formerly received, the Town being full.” Nevertheless, though the Town refused him a house lot and planting ground, it did not shut the door of entrance absolutely, and he was allowed to build his simple dwelling among the ledges on this rough hill-side. This persistent man prospered so well at his trade as a butcher, that he was able to buy Daniel Denison’s house in 1641, when the latter removed to another location. He was a picturesque figure, despite his laxity in moral character. The Grand Jury list of 1647 reveals the infelicity of his married life. We present widow Andrews …. for cursing and reviling her son-in-law Humphrey Griffin. We present Humphrey Griffin for reviling his wife’s mother. He was so indiscreet as to work on the Sabbath and was sentenced to pay a fine of ten shillings for unloading barley on the Sabbath day before sunset in the year 1657; and so unfortunate as to be fined another ten shillings the next year for his daughter’s violation of the law by wearing a silk scarf.”
Moritz B. Philipp and Jane Peterson
Rocky Hill was the summer home of Moritz Bernard Philipp of 1007 Fifth Avenue, a wealthy retired New York lawyer and art connoisseur. At one time he owned the Appleton House on North Main Street, and donated the property for the Memorial Building on Central Street to be constructed. He purchased the lot on Old England Road from the Essex Savings Bank in 1885.
In 1925, Philipp married artist Jane Peterson. Peterson was then 49 and Philipp was almost 30 years her senior. Petersen was active with the Rocky Neck art group in Gloucester, and the couple made their home at Rocky Hill in Ipswich. When he died four years later at the age of 81, his estate was valued at $10 million dollars. Peterson received a life annuity, a trust fund, and their Fifth Avenue and Ipswich homes. During the 1940s and 1950s, Peterson maintained a busy social life, moving between New York, Palm Beach and Ipswich but retired by 1960 to her niece’s home in Kansas where she died at age 88 in 1965. At an auction at Rocky Hill the following year, the contents of the house were sold, as well as more than 1,500 of her paintings, but by this time her artistry had been mostly forgotten.
The “Ipswich Painters” at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th Century included Edna Baylor, Henry Kenyon, Arthur Kimball, John Mansfield, Carl Nordstrom, Jane Peterson, Francis Richardson, and Theodore Wendel. The most famous and eminent was Arthur Wesley Dow, whose hometown was Ipswich. Many of their works on are on display at the Ipswich Museum.