The following is a list of First Period (1625-1725) and Second Period (1725-1776) 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 techniques. The fronts of these houses 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.
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.
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.
- Susan Nelson’s detailed listing for the Ipswich Historical Commission
- MACRIS (the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System)
- The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725
- Architecture in Colonial Massachusetts: A Conference Held by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts
- First and Second Period houses of Ipswich, by Susan Nelson for the Ipswich Historical Commission (PDF)
- Something To Preserve
- Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters
- First Period Buildings of Eastern Massachusetts., National Registry of Historic Places
- Historic New England, Architectural Style Guide
- Ipswich Patriot Properties assessors database
- Gordon Harris, Ipswich MA Town Historian