Water St. and the Green St. bridge
Water St. and the Green St. bridge

In the book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Volume I, Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the history of Water Street, which is part of an early public right-of-way that extended from the wharf to the Green Street Bridge, then cotinued along the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk to County St.

“Close by the river bank, on either side, a public way was sedulously preserved from any encroachment. On the north side of the river it still remains in Water Street, and originally it seems to have continued near the river, through the present County lands. On the south side it skirted the river, followed Turkey Shore, and continued round the cove to the saw-mill. There were ways to the Labour-in-vain fields, and to the Heartbreak Hill lands, “Old England,” as we call it now.”

Clam shacks on Water St.
Clam shacks on Water St. Photo by George Dexter, circa 1890. Notice that at that time, Water St. was just a  wide dirt path.
The 1872 Ipswich map shows a section of Water Street missing. Between Summer Street and Hovey Street it was an unimproved dirt path.
The 1872 Ipswich map shows a section of Water Street missing. Between Summer Street and Hovey Street, Water St. was still an unimproved dirt pathway.

Water Street and Summer Street were the town’s first adopted “Ways,” and in the early years were known collectively as “The Way to the Meeting House,” and “The Way to the River.” The two streets host many of the town’s surviving First Period houses. Shown below are historic photos and postcards of the Ipswich River and Water Street, which were the seafaring areas of the village of Ipswich, and are the heart of the East End Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Water Street, Ipswich MA
Water Street at the foot of Summer Street.
The Ipswich River looking upstream
The Ipswich River looking upstream from the Green Street bridge.
Water St. at Town Wharf. The small building on the right may have been the old Customs House.
Water St. approaching the Town Wharf. The small building may have been the old Customs House.
The Ipswich River, running alongside Water St.
The Ipswich River, running alongside Water St.
The pirate Harry Maine's house on Water St.
The pirate Harry Maine’s house on Water St.
Water St at the foot of Hovey St.
The B. Ellsworth house at the foot of Hovey St. Glover’s Coal Wharf is on the far right.
Boats at Rest by Arthur Wesley Dow
“Boats at Rest” by Arthur Wesley Dow
Water Street near the Green Street bridge.
Water Street near the Green Street bridge.
Watercolor of the Glazier-Sweet house by Arthur Wesley Dow, who lived across the river.
Watercolor by Arthur Wesley Dow, who lived across the river.
Water Street and the Ipswich River from the Green Street bridge.
Looking toward the Green Street bridge.
Water Street at the foot of Summer Street
Water Street at the foot of Summer Street

Low tide on Water St.

Sunset by Arthur Wesley Dow
Sunset over town, by Arthur Wesley Dow
Block print by Arthur Wesley Dow of houses on Water Street.
Postcard of the Town Wharf, with Water St. in the background.
Postcard of the Town Wharf, with Water St. in the background on the right and the Green St. Bridge in the distance.
Postcard of the river at the Town Wharf
Looking downstream from the Town Wharf
wharf_river_east_st
Water Street is on the left in this photograph of the Town Wharf in the 19th Century.
A coal schooner at Brown's Wharf.
A coal schooner at Brown’s Wharf.
Glover’s Wharf was on Water St. near the Town Wharf.
The wharf area at the far end of Water St. in 1910.
The wharf area at the far end of Water St. in 1910.
The intersection of East and Water Streets at the Town Wharf
Water Street 1909, view from the current Ipswich Yacht Club site. In the background is Fall’s Coal Barn, which burned in the 1920’s.. Mr. fall delivered coal door to door with a horse-drawn wagon.
Water Street 1909, view from the current Ipswich Yacht Club site. In the background is Fall’s Coal Barn, which burned in the 1920’s.. Mr. fall delivered coal door to door with a horse-drawn wagon.

Herman Melanson’s Boatyard on Water Street burned in a spectacular fire on August 7, 2009.The boathouse was constructed by Herman Melanson’s father in 1954 and was also his residence. The entire building, three boats and several vehicles were destroyed. In previous years, Melanson’s boathouse had been an active boat-building facility. Mr. Melanson and his health-care worker managed to escape. This video was posted on Youtube by Donald Freyleue.

Glazier-Sweet house, 12 Water St. 12 Water Street, the Glazier – Sweet house (1728) - The Glazier – Sweet House at 12 Water Street in Ipswich is a First Period Half-House built in 1728 by Benjamin Glazier, a sea captain. Like many colonial homes in Ipswich it has a “Beverly jog” on the left side. The Ipswich River is directly across from the house. The interior features many period-style furnishings. … Continue reading 12 Water Street, the Glazier – Sweet house (1728)
28 Water Street, the Harris – Stanwood House (1696) - The Harris – Stanwood house was built in 1696 by John Harris, was passed on to his descendant Thomas Harris. John Stanwood, a  Revolutionary War veteran, acquired the property in 1809 (187:233) and it remained in his family for many years. The house was expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the side addition … Continue reading 28 Water Street, the Harris – Stanwood House (1696)
32 Water Street, the Jabesh Sweet house (1713) - Jabesh Sweet built this house on a quarter acre lot by the river at 32 Water Street in  1713.  People used to say that the ghost of Harry Maine haunted the house that once sat where the garage for this house now stands.  All the ministers of the Town assembled there one day and prayed, … Continue reading 32 Water Street, the Jabesh Sweet house (1713)
36 Water Street, the York – Averill House (1715) - Captain Samuel York built this large hip roof house in 1715 after selling two smaller lots on East Street. The 2 story, L-plan house has a nearly symmetrical 5 bay facade. The interior and exterior reflect long progression of 18th and 19th century alteration. Captain Samuel York owned this lot before 1718, and the earliest … Continue reading 36 Water Street, the York – Averill House (1715)
4 Water Street, the Jewett house (1849) - Records of the Massachusetts Historical Commission list the modest Colonial Revival house at 4 Water Street as having been built circa 1880 by J.E. Jewett. There is considerable evidence suggesting that the 1880 date is incorrect and much too late. The frame of the oldest part of the house is typical of the “I-house form” … Continue reading 4 Water Street, the Jewett house (1849)
6 Water Street, the Preston – Foster house (1690) - The Preston – Foster House at 6 water street is described in “Something to Preserve,” published by the Ipswich Historical Commission in 1975, as having a typical original first-period floor plan in the original front structure. In the right half are two massive quarter-round chamfered summer beams typical of the late seventeenth century. The very sharp-pitched … Continue reading 6 Water Street, the Preston – Foster house (1690)
8 Water Street, the Harris-Sutton House (1677) - Thomas Franklin Waters wrote in “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony” (1905) that Abner Harris bought the lot and probably built the house in 1743. The administrator of his estate conveyed it to Dr. John Manning in 1787, and Manning sold the house to Captain Ebenezer Sutton in 1816. This residence has been called the … Continue reading 8 Water Street, the Harris-Sutton House (1677)

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