1872 map of East Street in Ipswich, known as "Knowlton's Close"

The Hovey clan and Knowlton’s Close, a 19th Century neighborhood

William Symonds an early Ipswich settler, sold to Thomas Harris, fisherman, “my house, wherein I now dwell” on East St. with two acres, in 1648. The lot was across from Hovey St., extending east, and included the lots now at 42-50 East Street, where houses were built in the 19th Century by the extended Hovey family.

Corner of East and Hovey St. in the early 20th century
East and Hovey Street intersection, photo circa 1910 by George Dexter

On the opposite side of East Street, the “clay-pitts meadow” became part of the 6-acre homestead of Thomas Harris. In the early years of the settlement, the Town had set aside certain clay pits and thatch banks for public use, where even the poorest man had liberty to provide himself with daubing for the chimney and walls of his humble dwelling, and the thatch for his roof.

1832 map of East St. in Ipswich
1832 map of Ipswich showing the undeveloped section on both sides of East Street. Within three decades they had been divided into lots with houses on them.

The meadow came into the possession of Thomas Knowlton in 1757. In 1844, John Sawyer sold to Josiah Caldwell the undeveloped tract, which had come to be known as “Knowlton’s Close.”

(*The word “Close” is an archaic English term for an enclosed farm-yard or lot, generally near the homestead of the owner. Examples include Lovell’s Close, Pynchon’s Close, Scott’s Close, Cogswell’s Close, Dennis Close, Hubbard’s Close, Caldwell’s Close , Wise Close, Brown’s Close, and Knowlton’s Close.)

Josiah Caldwell, a member of the Hovey clan, divided and sold the land in house lots. Vernacular Greek Revival and Italianate houses were constructed, and all but two or three are still standing today, some bearing remarkable similarity to the Hovey homes across the street.

2 Hovey Street, Ipswich MA
2 Hovey Street: The corner lot on Hovey’s Lane was conveyed to Tyler Caldwell and by him to Ephraim Grant Jr., June 12, 1846 (Ipswich Deeds 380: 61)
45 East St., Ipswich
45 East Street: The next lot, eastward, was sold by Josiah Caldwell to J. H. Varrell, July 28, 1847 (Ipswich Deeds, 400: 64)
49 East St., Ipswich MA
The lot at 49 East Street was sold to John J. Philbrook, Sept. 24, 1847. The lot to the west at 47 East St. was sold to to John W. Ross, June 1, 1848 (Ipswich Deeds, 398: 168) and is now an empty lot.
The house at 51 East Street in Ipswich was demolished
No longer standing, the lot at 51 East Street was sold to John F. Brocklebank, Dec. 1, 1845 (Ipswich Deeds, 362: 24) The Brockelbank-Ross house was demolished in 2005, and was replaced by a large condominium. A lot between the Brockelbank house and the John Morley house below was sold by Josiah Caldwell to John B. Stone, May 21, 1850 (Ipswich Deeds, 428: 241).
53 East Street, Ipswich MA
The house at 53 East Street is on a section of the land granted to Obadiah Wood, “biskett maker and was just east of Hovey’s Close.” The house is shown in the 1856, 1872 and 1884 maps owned by J. Morley. John Morley married Susan Henderson, June 20, 1833. She died in 1862. The tombstone of John Morley and Susan as well as his second wife Mary, is at the Old North Burying Ground. As a young man, John Morley was employed by the New England Lace Company on High St. A plaque at that location commemorates the Ipswich lace industry.
55 East St.
The house at 55 East Street was not a part of Knowlton’s Close, and is said to have been moved in the early 20th Century from Lord Square where it was part of Asa Lord’s Store. The rear ell of Asa Lord’s store was moved to 24 Mount Pleasant Avenue where it still stands today.

On the opposite side of East Street are several houses of similar construction, built in the same period by members of the extended Hovey family.

42 East Street Ipswich MA
Joseph Hovey bought the lot at 42 East Street in 1843 from the estate of Thomas Boardman. The old Boardman house was torn down about 1850, and Joseph Hovey built a house on the lot.
The house at 44 High Street Ipswich
The house at 44 East Street was built between 1856 and 1872 by John Roberts, through his marriage of Mary Elizabeth Hovey (1843-1928)
the Ipswich assessors database list it as 1849. The owner of this house was apparently Tyler Caldwell (1819-1898), son of Francis Caldwell and Lydia Hovey who lived on property.
The date of construction for 48 East Street is listed as 1849. The first known owner of this house was Tyler Caldwell (1819-1898), son of Francis Caldwell and Lydia Hovey who lived on the same or adjoining property.
50 East Street, Ipswich MA
The Hovey-Dodge house at 50 East Street was constructed in 1856

Sources and related posts:

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Other houses on Hovey Street

3 Hovey Street, the John Kendrick house (1665) 3 Hovey Street, the John Kendrick house - John Kenrick, a cooper by trade, owned this lot in 1665. He and his son sold it to to Thomas Staniford in 1706. Structural evidence supports a construction date of about 1670. Much of the trim dates from the late 18th or early 19th centuries.… Continue reading 3 Hovey Street, the John Kendrick house
6 Hovey Street, the Thomas Foulds Ellsworth house (1866) 6 Hovey Street, the Thomas Foulds Ellsworth house (1866) - Captain Thomas Ellsworth built this house after purchasing the old Mansfield lot in 1866. He sold the property to Howard C. Dodge in 1887.… Continue reading 6 Hovey Street, the Thomas Foulds Ellsworth house (1866)

2 thoughts on “The Hovey clan and Knowlton’s Close, a 19th Century neighborhood”

  1. Are any of these Hoveys related to the abolitionist, Charles Hovey? He had a summer residence on Hovey St. in Gloucester. It is a beautiful large home with grounds overlooking the harbor. It was worth $3000 in 1847. He left his large estate to help the abolitionist cause and the women’s cause.

    Are any of the Hoveys related to Ipswich master mariner, Nathaniel Hovey? He had a son, Joseph, born in 1733. I believe they were in the West Indies trade.

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