15 Elm Street, the Old Town Hall Annex (c 1920)

The Ipswich Police Department was formerly the Electric Department, constructed in 1938.

In the 1893 Ipswich map, this location was part of Augustine Heard’s extended yard, that reached from Elm St. to the present Ipswich Museum. The brick building at 15 Elm Street was known officially as the Town Hall Annex, constructed in the early 20th Century, although the actual date is uncertain. It was designed to supplement the historic former Town Hall facing South Main St. It was used as the Water and Electric Department office from 1937-77, then was converted for police use in 1977 when the Electric Department moved to their facility on upper High St.

The modestly neoclassical style with posts and pediments is somewhat similar to the construction style of the 1921 Memorial Hall on Central St which is now senior housing.

  • From the 1937 Ipswich Town Report: “Move Electric Department: It is our belief that the day has come when the Water and light Department should be moved from the Town Hall into their own building in the rear of the Town Hall. If the Electric Light and Water Department were moved into their own brick building it would be possible to move the Town Accountant and Selectmen into the office vacated by the Water and Light Department.”
  • The 1938 Town Report reports the following: “In November the Board of Selectmen notified the Water and Light Commission that it desired the use of the room in the Town Hall building used as the office of the Water and Light Department for other Town purposes and requested that the commission move in to the brick building at the rear of the Town Hall on Elm street. This was done as soon as possible and on February 15, 1939, the office in the Town Hall building was vacated.
  • The 1977 Ipswich Town Meeting approved remodeling of the building for a police station.
15 Elm Street Ipswich MA
15 Elm Street in the 1980 photo at the MACRIS site

Too much asphalt!

The Police Dept. building on Elm Street is one of a handful of early 20th Century Neoclassical brick buildings still standing in Ipswich. Rather than demolish the building, the Town could utilize adaptive reuse of the primary part of the building. Presently Elm Street presents as an eyesore of asphalt pavement. Proper landscaping would greatly improve the appearance of this century-old structure and associated parking lot.  Any changes and improvements should complement the fact that the north side of the street is lined with historic houses.

  • Keep Elm Street one way in its present direction
  • Narrow the street by approximately 5 ft., replace the asphalt with brick paving, and install attractive greenery between the street and the building and parking lot.  (An example of a similar steet with narrower width is upper Summer Street.)
  • Remove the attached garage structures in the rear of the Police building and replace them with plantings.
  • Extend the Ipswich Riverwalk to the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk by utilizing the rear of the property and parking lot.
  • Improve the hideous parking Elm St. and South Main St. parking lots so they are attractive assets and provide increased access to the Ipswich Visitor Center and the present police department in its future capacity.
  • If it is decided that housing will be built on the present Elm St. parking lot, it should complement the existing houses on Elm St. in size and appearance.
Ipswich Police Dept. landscaped
A suggestion of what the police building could look like with landscaping.