In March 1692 several Ipswich persons petitioned “to have liberty granted them to build shops upon ye bank by ye river side,” at what is now South Main Street. The Selectmen laid out this stretch of land in twenty-three small lots and granted them “to as many individuals with the conditions that they not encumber the highway, make provision for drainage under the buildings, that each person provide paving four-foot wide all along before ye said buildings for the convenience of foot travelers, and erect posts to keep horses from spoiling the same.” It was stipulated by the Town that the lots extend no farther into the river than “ye low water mark.” South Main Street in Ipswich was devastated by America’s love of the automobile. In the 20th Century, beautiful old houses here and at the other end of town on Lord’s Square were demolished and replaced by garages and service stations.

ross_tavern_from_bridge

The Ross Tavern abutted the Choate Bridge on the downstream side. It was built in 1690 in downtown Ipswich, but in 1735 it was moved to the south-east side of the Choate Bridge where it remained until 1940 when it was disassembled and moved to its present location on Jeffreys Neck Road at the former Wendel Estate, where the original timber frame was restored and reassembled. 17th Century fireplaces and 17th & 18th century woodwork are features inside the house.

The Ross Tavern on South Main St. Photo is from the late 1800’s
By the time the Ross Tavern was moved in the 1940’s it was in sad condition. Behind it is the building that an antiques dealer named Burnham put together from several small buildings, which later became a local grill known as “The King’s Rook”.
Set back a bit from where the Ross Tavern stood, Ralph Burnham assembled several old buildings into one building which he intended to use as an art gallery. It later became a music venue known as the Kings Rook and the Stonehenge Club. and finally as a restaurant before it was torn down and replaced by the similar-looking professional building at that location now.

The Sherborne Wilson House built in 1685 till stands near the Choate Bridge. The Ross Tavern beside it was moved to Jeffreys Neck Road, where it is now known as the Wendell Estate.

bills-variety-store

Abutting the bridge on the west side was Bill’s Variety Store, which later became Immie Thayer’s bridal shop.

The photo below is the east side of South Main Street looking in the direction of the Old Town Hall, which is just out of the photo on the right. Note the electric poles, which indicate the photo was taken around the turn of the 20th Century. Of the houses shown here, only the Sherborne Wilson house, the corner of which is in on the left, still stands. The building on the far right with the Mansard roof was the Ipswich Savings Bank at the corner of South Main Street and Elm Street, and the bell tower on the Old Town Hall can be seen above and beyond that house. The second photo is the same view as seen today. The Birds Eye map of Ipswich below confirms Bill Varrell’s description in Images of Ipswich.

south_main_hapgood
Bill Varrell wrote in Images of Ipswich, “Baker’s Express wagon is parked on the west side of South Main Street in front of Baker’s Clothing Store (now Fiske and Freeman antiques), which was located in the Opera House building (later the Strand Theater) on Market Street. To the right of the photograph are several early houses, now destroyed or moved. The Old Town Hall is out of the photo but the bell tower that once graced its roof can be seen above the house with the Mansard roof.
This is a photograph taken recently from the same location. To the left of the Old Town Hall is the 1847 building that is home to JoAnne's Florist. It would be hidden behind other buildings in the old photo.
This is a photograph taken recently from the same location. To the left of the Old Town Hall is the 1847 building that is home to JoAnn’s Florist. It would be hidden behind other buildings in the old photo.
south_main-elm
South Main Street in the 1893 Birds Eye Map of Ipswich. The Choate Bridge is on the left, and the Old Town Hall is on the right. The west side of South Main Street was lined with houses as well, some of which survive, but several of which were demolished to build the town’s first auto store and garage, formerly the home of Jungle Printing.
The intersection of South Main and Elm Streets. The Ipswich Savings Bank was on the right. In the distance is the Choate Bridge, a line of small shops at the foot of North Main St., and the Ipswich Female Academy touring over them.
The intersection of South Main and Elm Streets. The Ipswich Savings Bank was on the right. In the distance is the Choate Bridge, a line of small shops at the foot of North Main St., and the Ipswich Female Seminary behind them. Photo provided by Bob Swan.
A view of the rear of the buildings on South Main Street, just below the dam was known as
A view of the rear of the buildings on South Main Street, just below the dam was known as “Little Venice.” Photo by George Dexter, circa 1890.
South Main Street, looking from the other direction. The houses in the first photo would be on the right but are obscured by trees and the turn in the road. Several of these houses still stand on South Main, including the Philomen Dean House (Old Lace Factory) in the foreground. In the distance is the approach to the Choate Bridge.
KMBT_C364-20140702052256
This photo was provided by Eric Van Horn. Imagine these unpaved streets after it rains!
curriers_south_main
Auto dealer (and former bicycle mechanic) Ernest Currier built a garage to service Model T’s at this location. He removed the buildings in the center and on the left, and moved the Dr. Manning house on the right closer to the Choate Bridge, where it still stands.
Some buildings on South Main near the Choate Bridge were spared demolition.
socho_today
The same view of South Main St. today
15 South Main Street, the Caldwell Block (1870) - The Caldwell Block at the corner of South Main and Market Street is the oldest large building in the commercial section of Ipswich. The photos below show that despite the change of establishments, the building remains easily identifiable. The Choate Bridge Pub anchors the corner now, but when John Updike had his office upstairs, it was … Continue reading 15 South Main Street, the Caldwell Block (1870)
30 South Main Street, the Old Town Hall (1833) - The Old Town Hall building at 30 Main Street in Ipswich is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the South Green National Historic District (9/17/1980). For 180 years the massive Greek Revival building has stood at the corner of Elm Street and South Main Street. The Unitarian Church built it … Continue reading 30 South Main Street, the Old Town Hall (1833)
Josephy Manning house, South Main Street, Ipswich 31 South Main Street, the Joseph Manning house (1727) - In exploring the history of this building, I uncovered a tale of two families, one most fortunate, and the other less so. A house on the lot at 31 South Main Street can be traced back to Isaac Fitts, a hatter, who petitioned for forty feet on the River bank in 1726, that he might set … Continue reading 31 South Main Street, the Joseph Manning house (1727)
37 South Main Street, Baker’s Store (b. 1828) - The former Baker’s Clothing Store at 37 South Main Street  in Ipswich was built in 1828 and has a combination of Italianate and Greek Revival elements. The other Baker’s Store building next to the Choate Bridge burned after the Mother’s Day storm of 2006. The Joseph Manning house, just down the street was moved in the … Continue reading 37 South Main Street, Baker’s Store (b. 1828)
57 South Main Street, Ipswich Mills boarding house (1876) - The building at 57 South Main Street was erected by the Ipswich Mills Corporation for use as a boarding house, after it bought the existing 1723 house and land from Wesley K. Bell on May 4, 1876 (952: 164). In the early 20th Century, Madeline Linehan operated the Ipswich Mills Tea House in the former … Continue reading 57 South Main Street, Ipswich Mills boarding house (1876)
59 South Main Street, the Philomen Dean house (1716) - The Philomen Dean house, 59 South Main is on the right after crossing the footbridge. The house dates to 1716, with a gambrel roof, somewhat unusual for the time. Sarah Ordway, relict of Samuel Ordway the blacksmith whose house and shop were the only early buildings at this location,  sold the four rod lot and the six rod … Continue reading 59 South Main Street, the Philomen Dean house (1716)
6 South Main Street, the Shoreborne Wilson – Samuel Appleton house (1685) - The Shoreborne Wilson / Samuel Appleton House at 6 South Main Street was built in 1685 and is listed in the National Historic Register of Historic Places. The name is occasionally spelled Sherborne. Wilson apprenticed as a carpenter and made a living as a cooper. In 1659 he sued his master Wilson Douglass for failing … Continue reading 6 South Main Street, the Shoreborne Wilson – Samuel Appleton house (1685)
69 S. Main Street, the Samuel Dutch house (b 1733) - Samuel Dutch bought this land in 1723 and built this house by 1733. The main (front) portion of the house facing the street appears to have been modified and enlarged with a third floor and a hip roof during in the early 19th Century. The rear wing has a chamfered summer beam, suggesting that it was an older … Continue reading 69 S. Main Street, the Samuel Dutch house (b 1733)
Ipswich Visitor Center, 36 South Main St.(1820) - Just past the Choate Bridge on South Main Street The Ipswich Visitor Center is located in the Hall – Haskell House, sometimes called the “Little Red House.” Earlier structures stood at this site before mariner Charles Hall and his wife bought the property in 1819. In 1820 they built this house, where they lived upstairs and … Continue reading Ipswich Visitor Center, 36 South Main St.(1820)
The Ipswich Museum, 54 South Main Street - The Heard House at 59 South Main Street, near the South Green, was purchased by the Ipswich Historical Society from the Heard family in 1939. With the additional space, the Society was able to expand its program to showcase later centuries of Ipswich history including a collection of works by the nineteenth century “Ipswich Painters, … Continue reading The Ipswich Museum, 54 South Main Street

 

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.