Ross Tavern on S. Main Street, Ipswich MA

The Ross Tavern

A large building on the southeast corner of the Choate Bridge was moved in 1940 to the former Wendel Estate on Jeffreys Neck Road at Strawberry Hill. The house was reassembled on the basis of physical evidence to its early appearance, by Daniel Wendel, the son of the American Impressionist painter Theodore Wendel. Summer beams, overhangs at the second story and other First Period elements were uncovered when the house was dismantled. The Soth Main St. location is now a parking lot for a commercial building.

The left hand portion was late First Period and the right hand part built about 1760 by Dr. Joshua Burnham.

Thomas Franklin Waters recorded that Isaac Fitts sold a lot “near the southerly abutment of the Town Bridge” to Thomas Burnham Jr., April 5, 1736 (72: 269). Fitts built or moved a small house after his purchase of the property in 1734. Dr. Thomas Manning sold the property to Jeremiah Ross, Nov. 12, 1809 (188: 36), who kept an inn in the greatly expanded building, known as Ross’s Tavern. It was sold by his heirs to Frederic Willcomb, July 13, 1888 (1231: 96).

Abbott Lowell Cummings recorded the following history of this house at a conference of the Colonial Society in 1974:

“The early history of this important house is obscure. It stood until recen years upon a small tract which formed one corner of the Wilson-Appleton houselot (q.v.), originally owned by John Proctor. The site was unimproved when acquired on September 20, 1734, by Isaac Fitts, hatter.  Two years later on April 5, 1736, when Fitts sold this thirty-rod corner lot next the “Southerly Abuttment” of Choate Bridge, it then contained a “House and barn. . . .”  The present structure, originally of single-room plan with chimney bay and possibly a projecting two-story porch, is unarguably late seventeenth century in date, and must have been moved to this lot from some undisclosed earlier location between 1734 and 1736. The addition at the right of single-room plan was made in all likelihood at the time of relocation. There is evidence for the addition of a leanto in the 18th century as well. Jeremiah Ross, who acquired the property in 1809, “kept an inn in the old house, and it is still remembered as Ross’s Tavern,” writes Thomas F. Waters in 1905.  The property was purchased on December 24, 1923, by the antiques dealer Ralph W. Burnham who uncovered some of the early features.  Daniel S. Wendel in 1940 acquired the house which he dismantled, re-erected, and restored on its present site, adding at the rear the frame of the Collins-Lord House in Ipswich, taken down in March 1938 (q.v.). Privately owned.”

The Ross Tavern on South Main St. Photo is from the late 1800s
Rear of the Ross Tavern on S. Main St.
Photo of the back of the Ross Tavern from the HABS survey, identifying it as the “Proctor house.”
This 19th Century photo of South Main Street shows the Ross Tavern on the left, the Shoreborne Wilson – Samuel Appleton house in the middle where it still stands, and the Amos Dunnels house on the right, which was moved in the 20th Century to 45 County Street.
1832 Ipswich map, with the Ross Tavern circled
The reconstructed Ross Tavern at Strawberry Hill. The rear ell is the Lord Collins house (c 1690) which was moved from High St.

Sources and Further reading:

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