Three men died from smoke inhalation when a blaze swept through the former Hayes Hotel on Depot Square in the early morning hours of August 24, 1969. The fire started in a wing on the left of the building and spread throughout the old brick building. Five roomers and two firefighters were hospitalized. Most of the 27 roomers were elderly people of limited income, renting rooms at $15.00 /week. They lost all of their belongings. Fighting the fire that morning were 125 firemen from Ipswich and eight other communities.
The Hayes Hotel was constructed in 1842 by James Peatfield and Sandford Peatfield as a factory for the manufacture of woolen goods, hosiery and underclothing. The Peatfield brothers had been employed at the Lower Mill on County Street, knitting shirts and drawers upon a warp frame, invented by James. Encouraged by their success, they obtained financing through George W. Heard, bought this location in 1840, and built the brick factory. Mr. Heard declared bankruptcy a few years later, and the Peatfield brothers lost their building and business for a time, but recovered in a few years. Read more about the Ipswich hosiery industry.
When Sanford Peatfield retired and sold his share of the building and land, James Peatfield began the manufacture of the nets that were then in vogue for women’s wear, and continued it profitably for years. He retired in 1877, and John W. Hayes purchased the building in 1885. He established the Hayes Tavern, and subsequent owner Thomas Broderick renamed it the Hayes Hotel. By the middle of the 20th Century the building still had the hotel sign, but was being used as a rooming house. A new building was constructed after the fire, and is the location of the Georgia’s Pizza and Spice Thai restaurant.