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.
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.
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 are still standing today, some bearing remarkable similarity to the Hovey homes across the street.
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.
Sources and related posts:
- Waters, Thomas Franklin, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. 1
- Sue Nelson, Report on the Brocklebank-Ross house at 51 East St.
- The Hovey Book
- Daniel Hovey