Lord’s Square was known as Brewer’s Corner in early Ipswich. John Brewer was a town clerk and being on what was then the outskirts of town owned a large lot, which he divided into sections and sold. Brewer’s First Period home at 82 High Street was built in 1700 and still stands just north of Dunkin Donuts. Eventually High Street was lined with homes belonging to the Lord Family. Asa Lord owned and operated a store at what is now the bewildering intersection of Linebrook, Market, High, Short and Liberty Streets as well as Rt. 133 and Rt. 1A. Lords Square was the point at which Boxford Road (now Linebrook) branched off to the west, and Gravel Street (Liberty and Washington Streets) looped around a wetland called Farley Brook. That would later be filled in to create Central Street in the middle of the 19th Century. At first Central intersected Liberty Street at a right angle. Lord’s Square was reconfigured to accommodate traffic flow in 2000.
In the first half of the 20th Century fine old homes and neighborhood stores at Lord’s Square were demolished and replaced by small cheap service stations, one converted to Dunkin Donuts and another into an auto repair shop. Lord’s Square is in the General Business zoning district and historically was a commercial center for the northern part of town. Although the larger shopping center is now further north on upper High Street, the Square continues to be home to various businesses.
Lord’s Square is surrounded by historic buildings and homes,and abuts still-historic High Street with the largest collection of First Period houses in America. The 1725 Nathaniel Lord house and the First Period John Kimball house sit at east side of the intersection just past the Old North Burying Ground. The 1720 Wood-Lord house is the last house on the west side before the square, and the First Period John Brewer house is the next house on that side, just past the square. The Woodbury house at the beginning of Linebrook Road is a charming Colonial Revival home. A short distance beyond it on Linebrook Road is the Old Cross Farm, built in 1716. The large yellow Collins house on Central Street is an impressive example of Victorian architecture, and across the street from it is a handsome row of late 19th Century homes built in the “Second Empire” style. On Liberty Street the Levi Howe house was built in a modest Gothic Revival style and the George Brown house across the street from it is a wonderful Victorian home with a wrap-around porch. Indeed Lord’s Square has traditionally served as an important commercial crossroad where diverse Ipswich neighborhoods converged.
Little remains to remind of us of how the square itself once looked. The Old Payne School building built in 1802 is the most visible remaining historic building. It’s original location was next to the old fire station, the site of the current laundromat. In 1891 a small knoll known as Gander Hill was leveled and the school was moved across the Square to its current location. A second floor was added at that time, and the building still serves as the office for the Superintendent of Ipswich Schools. In 1994, a 243-year-old Georgian-era house across from the Payne School at 1 Linebrook Road (in Lord’s Square next to the laundromat) was demolished and replaced with a small commercial building that is currently a sports rehab center.
The rear ell of Asa Lord’s store cannot be seen in the above photo. It was moved to 24 Mount Pleasant Avenue and still exists today. Bill Varrell in Ipswich, Images of America states that the front building was moved to East Street, and Alice Keenan says it became the home of the St. Laurent family, behind Alyce’s Variety store (now the Ipswich General Store) on East Street. The building was altered considerably; here’s a current photo.
Asa Lord’s market opened in 1826, and he probably could have had plenty of customers just from his own relatives. Fifteen generations of the Lord family are buried in the Old Burying Ground across High Street. The store served as a de facto neighborhood community center, where people would sit out front and chat. It was said that when the Lord’s Store closed in 1930 old stock was piled throughout the upstairs stockroom in “the wildest confusion” with goods dating back to before the Civil War. In the book Ipswich Yesterday, Alice Keenan reported that the store was closed in order to accommodate a gasoline station. “There was a great deal of objection to the gasoline station from the abuttors…eventually the proponents gained their way and Lord’s Square began its slow slide into rampant commercialism”. Old traditions die hard, and men from the town continued to stop in and chat in the Esso service station!
This old photo above is from the first half of the 20th Century soon after Asa Lord’s Store was demolished. Three buildings remain today: the old firehouse on the far right, the former Marcorelle’s Store on the far left, and the Paine School in the middle. Asa Lord’s store faced High Street and would have been approximately where the traffic island is now, and had already been split apart and moved to two separate locations as residences. The Prime service station sits today in the triangular patch between the two trees. The two buildings between the right tree and the old fire station on the far right are gone. The chimneys on the large two-story Georgian house that sat at 1 Linebrook Road in 1994 can be seen over the roof of the smaller house that was demolished to build the building that is now a laundromat.
The French Canadian Marcorelle Brothers also operated a store at Lord’s Square in a building constructed in 1872. That building is still in use today, looking quite attractive on Short Street behind the service station. The 1872 map indicates a building at this location under the name L. Caldwell. Burnham’s Grocery was demolished in 1930 to construct a Sunoco Station, which was followed by a Richdale store, and converted to the current Dunkin Donuts
Across from Asa Lord’s at the current location of Dunkin Donuts was a grocery. Norman James Bowles moved from Boyleston, N.S. and adopted the local spelling Bolles. He married into the Lord family and ran this grocery store. Clement Bowles ran the store after his brother’s death. By the time of its closing in the early 1900’s it was known as Burnham’s Grocery. It was demolished to build a Sunoco station in 1930, which became a Richdale and is now Dunkin Donuts.
To the left of it still stands the former Lord’s Square fire station. The empty yellow building between Dunkin Donuts and the laundromat was constructed between 1865 and 1872. Despite its neglected appearance and the boxy additions it once served as one of the town’s three fire stations, housing engine #2, the Neptune. The other two companies were on Warren Street and in the Candlewood neighborhood. The fire station had a bell tower in the front and a tall hose-drying tower in the rear. The “Neptune” was the town’s “hand tub” fire engine and was housed in this building.
Street names have been updated in the 1832 and 1872 maps.The primary difference is that Central Street has been created, originally ending at Liberty Street before the intersection was redesigned.
The sped-up video below was created by Mark Pappas