John Wise Saddle Shop, Mineral St. in Ipswich

16 Mineral Street, Wise Saddle Shop (c.1742 /1801)

The old Wise Saddle Shop is the oldest building in the section of Mineral Street from Central Street to Washington Street. The area below Mineral St. was once a muddy wetland, with Farley’s Brook running through it. The brook runs just to the left of the house.

Jabez Farley sold a 40′ wide lot to Joseph and John Wise, “laborers” in 1799, and an additional strip in 1801, (Salem Deeds: book 172, page 252). It is assumed that they constructed or moved to this location the small dwelling shortly thereafter. As late as 1832, this house was the only structure on Mineral St. Both men served in the military. Joseph was involved in 2 campaigns during the French and Indian War in 1761 and 1762. John enlisted as a private in Capt. Moses Whittier’s Company in 1814. It is said that the house was once a saddle shop and that the leather was washed in Farley Brook nearby. In 1869 the heirs, Lucy Wise, Elizabeth and Patrick Condon sold a portion of the land on their “homestead” “in consideration of $20” to Nathaniel Harris. The 1872 map shows the owner as “Mrs. E. Condon.”

Early history of the lot

Early land grants to Ipswich Settlers, showing that William Paine and Henry Kingsbury were granted land on the north side of the present Mineral St. was called Baker’s Lane

The land on which 16 Mineral St. now stands was granted to early Ipswich settler William Paine. His lot is described as extending from today’s High St. to Washington St. “and a house lot appertaining to me running upon a straight line from the northern corner of sd Day’s fence down to a brook or run of water, part of which house lot was lately in occupancy of Widow Rofe , bounded by the brook and upon a lane or common way,” September 19, 1668 (Ips. Deeds 3: 92-95). The Widow Rofe lot was alluded to in a sale by John Perkins to his son Samuel in 1670 (Ips Deeds 4:285). *“The Widow Rofe” was the widow of one of the brothers, Daniel Rolfe who died in 1654, Thomas Rolfe who died in 1657, or Ezra Rolfe who died in 1652.

In the 18th Century, Michael Farley and Deacon Jeremiah Perkins owned several acres of land in the vicinity of what is now Washington and Mineral Streets. Businessman and selectman Jabez Farley and Aaron Perkins divided the large field in 1798, and Farley sold 5 acres in the rear, including this property. (Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Vol. 1, p. 320; p 363).

Unusual angle bracing in west downstairs room. where the older section and the addition were joined.
Beam repair in the house at 16 Mineral St.


The style of the post and beam construction in the house and the barn suggests that the buildings may be up to a century older, and that the structures could have been moved to this location after John and Joseph Wise purchased the land. The house appears to have been built as an earlier hall and parlor 1 1/2 story cape with a central chimney, all on stone foundations. An extension to the rooms on the left side (without a full basement) was added, probably not long after the house was constructed on this site.

Looking down at the double stairway, with the chimney masonry at the left.

Inside the front entrance is a double stairway, similar to those found leading to the second floor or attic of two-story homes in Ipswich. The hall and parlor fireplaces are unusually large for the early 19th Century, and are mortared with clay.

The barn in the rear of the building is believed to be of the same age or older. Architect Matt Cummings confirms that the structure is of the English timber frame style found in First Period and Georgian homes (predating 1775). The barn was restored in 1990-1994.

Barn wall framing before it was remodeled
The remodeled barn interior
Tenon joints in barn gunstock story post, pulled apart for inspection during reconstruction. The small tenon received the end of the front upper plate. The higher tenon is still inserted into the end wall common rafter.

Earlier location

The frame of this house and the barn are indicative of the early to mid 18th Century, suggesting that the house may have been moved here by John and Joseph Wise after they purchased the lot in 1799. The house may have originally sat on High St. near the intersection of Mineral St. The present house at 42 High Street was built by Abner Harris in 1800 after removal of the 1742 Daniel Ringe house. Although the exact location is not clear, it was said to have been moved to Central Street. Mineral Street (aka Baker’s Lane) is on the earliest maps, but Central wasn’t constructed until around 1860. The 1800 date of construction of 42 High Street and its proximity to the present location of the house makes that the most likely candidate.

Fireplace at 16 Mineral St. A similar bake oven in the opposing room is unblocked.
Bake oven in the other downstairs fireplace


3 thoughts on “16 Mineral Street, Wise Saddle Shop (c.1742 /1801)”

  1. My aunt, Beverly J. Bishop, lived in this house for many years up until her death in 2009. I believe she was responsible for getting the historical sign for the house. She also restored the barn as it was falling down. It is a lovely little house that she so much enjoyed.

    1. Hi Elaine, we are still here in the house and now have a little girl growing up here. We love it here and are thankful to you and your uncle for selling us the house. Beverly seemed like an amazing person by all we’ve heard.

      1. Hello Nathan, reviewing some bookmarked websites and looked at the Ipswich Historical Society one that I had scouted out to find more info on my Aunt Beverly’s house. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to see your reply to my post. So happy you are still there. I have driven by on occasion and wondered if you still owned the house. I so dearly wanted to buy the house as I loved it so very much but my family thought it was too far away from them seeing as I would be living alone. I hope your daughter will appreciate its history when she gets older. Be well.

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