Gothic Gables of Ipswich

The Gothic Revival style was a mid-19th century movement in architecture, reflecting the public’s taste for buildings inspired by medieval design.

The Gables, South Village Green

The Gables is a fascinating Gothic Revival home at 11 South Village Green, behind the John Baker House.  The house was designed by mathematician David Baker and built between 1832 and 1846 as an upscale lodging for lawyers in town for the Ipswich court. David Baker was unable to repay the money he borrowed from Augustine Heard, who took possession.


The Gables in the late 20th Century

The house remained in the Heard family through the early 20th century. Augustine Heard is said to have been impressed by Orson Squire Fowler, who popularized the octagon house in the middle of the nineteenth century. Heard may have added the octagonal cupola and interior suspended center staircase. In the 1920’s Nellie Huckins purchased the house and ran the Gables Tea Room from this house.

Isaac Foss house, Turkey Shore Rd., Ipswich Ma

Isaac Foss house on Turkey Shore Road

Another gorgeous Gothic Revival house from the same time period is at 63 Turkey Shore Road, built between 1850 and 1870 by Isaac Foss. The steep front gables on this house are a dramatic departure from the classical Federal and Greek Revival styles popular earlier in the century. The Romantic architectural movement was already evolving with Victorian influence, and the vertical wooden decorative pieces suggest the “Stick” style of Victorian architecture.

Tudor Revival house on Kimball Avenue.

The house at 27 Kimball Avenue was built in approximately 1930 and is an extraordinary example of the Tudor Revival period (1880-1940), which drew from medieval English architecture but distinguished itself from Gothic Revival, Italianate and Victorian forms of the creative 19th Century. This form was based on broad reinterpretations of English manor houses and became enormously popular in the 1920s and 30s.

Tall gables are prominent features of this house on Argilla Road

Steeply pitched roofs, prominent cross gables, half-timbering, large chimneys with chimney pots and tall narrow windows are often found in the Tudor Revival style. Few Tudor style homes exist in Ipswich, the most famous being Crane Castle.

A large house at 44 Argilla Road may have been built as late as 1920 but still reflects the Gothic Revival period with its prominent gables on the front side. (I welcome comments regarding the history of that house.)

early photo of Ascension Church in Ipswich MA

An old photo of the Ascension Memorial Church on County Street. The rear of the Methodist Church is seen on the right.

Ascension Memorial Episcopal Church on County Street is an American Gothic building designed by famed architect James Renwick Jr. (1818-1895). View photos of the evolution of this church from 1869 to the present day.

Two First Period homes in Ipswich have tall front-facing gables that were not on the original structure. Hollie Bucklin modified the front of his home at the corner of East and Spring Street so that it appears to be a Medieval cross-gabled house.

First Church on Meetinghouse Green was a fine example of Gothic architecture. It was painted red in the early 20th Century, later painted back white. The church burned in 1965.

The gables that were added to the front of the Whipple House in the mid-20th Century were not on the building when they acquired it, and may never have been. Both links show the houses when they were more typical First Period structures.

The finest Gothic structure in Ipswich is sadly gone. The previous sanctuary of the First Congregational Church was built in 1849. At one time it was painted a deep red at the suggestion of Ipswich native son and world-famous artist Arthur Wesley Dow. The steeple on the old church was so tall that the rooster at the top was 150 feet of the ground. In 1965 lightning hit the steeple and the building was destroyed by fire.

Categories: Houses

3 replies »

  1. Gordon, I am the owner of The Gables. Our architect does not think the cupola and hanging staircase were added later. I also believe they were integral to the house when it was built. David Baker was a navigational instrument maker and an interesting guy; I think he wanted to build an interesting house even though it probably impacted the success of his business which was a boarding house. Who builds such an expensive building for a boarding house? Well, he did! I have the documents from the HBS library about the house and I promise to write the article eventually! You are most welcome to visit and see for yourself about the hanging staircase and cupola. Just give me call; we are in the book! Karen Donovan


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