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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.