Ipswich Manning house at the MFA

The “Art of the Americas” wing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts features building artifacts from Ipswich and the surrounding North Shore area. The second-floor framing of the Manning house built in Ipswich about 1692 at the intersection of Manning and High Streets is in the America’s wing. The Manning House was probably built by William Stewart in 1693. In 1818, the house was purchased by Jacob Manning. It was once used as the town’s alms house. When it was razed in 1925, the timber frame was preserved and put on display at the Museum.

Manning House now at the MFA
The Manning house in the early 20th Century
Birdseye map of High St. in Ipswich
The Manning House is circled in this view from the 1893 Birdseye map of Ipswich.
The display of the Manning House framework after it was installed in 1925.
Display of the Manning House framework after it was installed in 1925.

The framework is now displayed on the first floor of the “Art of the America’s” Wing of the museum. Shown below is the summer beam from the Manning house, with its floor beams attached.

Photograph of a photo of the Manning House at the Museum of Fine Arts, taken by William Sumner in 1923.
Manning house beams at the MFA
Manning house frame in its new display in the Artt of the Americas Wing

“Summer beams” such as this were a standard feature in the First Period architecture of colonial Massachusetts and are still found in many of the houses in the historic district of Ipswich.

Description of the Manning House timbers at the MFA

Also on this floor is a recreation of a section of the interior of a West Boxford home from the early 1700’s, including original beams, bricks, woodwork and flooring. On the next level is the re-creation of rooms from the 19th century Oak Hill mansion in what was South Danvers from land now occupied by the North Shore Mall in Peabody.

Caleb Lord house in Ipswich
These houses were across Manning Street from the Manning House.

The house on the left in the photo above was the Caleb Lord House. Notice the very steep slope of the roof which hangs over the second story windows, and the massive center chimney. These are traditional characteristics of Ipswich’s First Period houses built between 1640 and 1725. Behind the Caleb Lord house is an early double house. Both were demolished in the 20th Century along with the Manning House.


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