First Period, Georgian and Federal era houses of Ipswich

The Preston-Foster house on Water St. in Ipswich

The following is a list of First Period (1625-1725), Second Period (1725-1776) and Federal-era houses in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Links are provided to photos and the history of the house.

The First Period of colonial American architecture was approximately 1626 through 1725. There are more remaining first Period houses in Essex County, MA than anywhere else in the country, and Ipswich has 59 (depending on who’s counting), more surviving First Period homes than any other town.

First Period houses have steeply pitched roofs, are asymmetrical due to having been built in phases, and feature large central chimneys. Exposed chamfered summer beams are almost always found, especially in the front rooms. First Period builders were often trained in English Medieval and post-Medieval techniques. The fronts of these houses ideally faced south to maximize heat from the sun’s rays, which explains why so many First Period homes line the north side of High Street in Ipswich.

View a chronologial list of First Period houses in Ipswich.


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Ipswich First Period Houses

Ipswich Second Period Houses

The Second Period refers to Colonial Georgian architecture, from approximately 1725 until the American Revolution, which ushered in the Federal era. While often similar to fine First Period homes, 2nd houses feature a planned balanced facade, pilasters, other ornamental details and chimneys on either end of the house. Most earlier homes were updated to appear Georgian as they were enlarged or remodeled, but the lack of symmetry and the large central chimneys remain.

Ipswich Third Period Houses

The Third Period was the Federal era between c. 1780 and 1830 but particularly from 1785 to 1815. It is also called “Adam” referring to three Scottish brothers who were influential designers of the era. Builders in the new American republic distanced themselves from English influence and created a new style unique to America. Federal era homes can be distinguished from Georgian architecture mostly by details, including semicircular fanlights over the front doors, side-lights on either side of the doors, palladian windows and wide corner boards.

After 1820 architecture in the United States underwent frequent stylistic changes, including the Greek Revival, Italianate and Gothic Revival Periods, followed by a half century of Victorian architecture: 2nd Empire, Queen Anne, Stick, and shingle styles.

1st Period and early 2nd Period houses in the Ipswich Architectural Preservation District

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