The Burley Tavern, Green St., Ipswich MAStories

Two Taverns for Two Susannas

In the 18th Century, two of the finest inns in Ipswich were run by women, a mother and daughter both named Susanna. Although the two houses are both on corners of County Street, they were separated by the river, because the County Street Bridge was not built until a hundred years later.

Swasey’s Tavern

Swasey Tavern at the corner of Poplar and County Streets in Ipswich
The Howe-Homan –Swasey Tavern at the corner of Poplar and County Streets in Ipswich. Some small part of this house may date to 1693.

In 1725 Increase How purchased “a good mansion house” at the corner of County Street and Poplar Street from John Whipple, who had purchased the house from John Ayres in 1705. Ayres built the earlier structure in 1693.

Increase How kept an inn in the house, and after he died in 1754 at the age of 74 his daughter Susanna (who had married Captain Richard Homan) ran the inn. She appears to have been open-minded. In 1756 she received and took in three Catholic families from French-speaking Nova Scotia whose arrival had been anticipated and debated by the Ipswich people for several months.

In the fall of 1789 just four months after he took the oath of office, President George Washington visited Ipswich and dined at Susanna Homan’s Inn. Crowds awaited him at the South Green where he was welcomed by the Selectmen and a regiment of the militia. At the Inn he partook of a meal and proceeded on to Newburyport. Susanna Homan, whose tombstone describes her as “fair and good” died three years later at age 66.

Swasey’s Tavern at the corner of Popular and County Streets, early 20th Century. On the right is the former Cogswell School, and behind it is the John Calef house. At the far end of Poplar Street you can see the Heard-Lakeman house and the Burnham-Patch house, which was also at one time an inn.

Despite the early ownership records, there are no indications of First Period construction in this house. A Federal-era hip roof was replaced by a Mansard roof in the late 1800s to give it a third floor. The building is now known as Swasey’s Tavern, after the town moderator General Swasey who famously fell dead at Town Meeting in 1816. The building was later utilized as a boarding house for the pupils of the Ipswich Female Seminary.

Ipswich Tercentenary reenactment of George Washington's visit to Ipswich. The Swasey Tavern is in the background
Ipswich Tercentenary reenactment of George Washington’s visit to Ipswich. The Swasey Tavern is in the background.

Burley’s Tavern

Andrew Burley House, 12 Green Street, Ipswich MA
The Andrew Burley house / Smith’s Tavern, 12 Green Street was built before 1688.

The widow of Increase How was also named Susanna. In 1762, she married Captain John Smith, who had purchased the 1688 Andrew Burley house at 12 Green Street two years earlier from the estate of Andrew Burley’s widow Hannah. Andrew Burley was a wealthy merchant, justice of the Sessions Court and was elected as representative to the General Court in 1741. He updated the house with fine Georgian features. Susanna (How) Smith ran an inn in this ancient house until 1790.

The Andrew Burley house, Ipswich ma, 1899
The Andrew Burley house,12 Green St. in 1899

Andrew Burley’s will provided detailed instructions for the care of his widow Hannah, leaving her “the improvement of the land and buildings where I now live, and to be yearly procured for her, put in her barn, by my executors one load of salt, one load of English hay, also twelve bushels of corn, four of rye, four of malt, two hundred pounds of good pork, as much beef, thirty of butter, fifty of cheese, twenty of flax from the swingle, ten of sheep’s wool, and six cords of wood, to be delivered at her said dwelling house yearly while she remains my widow, and for the same time to find her a horse and a chair to ride to meeting or elsewhere as her occasion requires. I also give her one cow and my household goods.

More taverns!

8 North Main St, the Ebenezer Stanwood House (1747) 6-8 North Main St., Taverner Sparks (c.1671-1710) - The left side of this first period house was the home of taverner John Sparks and his wife Mary. The right side was added in the early 18th Century during ownership by the Smith family. Sparks' nearby hostelry was known far and wide, and Sessions of the Quarterly Courts met there for 20 years.
Treadwell's Inn, 12 N. Main St., Ipswich 12 North Main Street, Treadwell’s Inn (1737) - In 1737, Captain Nathaniel Treadwell opened an inn in this building. John Adams visited Ipswich frequently during the 1770s in his capacity as a lawyer and always stayed at Captain Nathaniel Treadwell's inn. It was once erroneously named the Christian Wainwright house, which no longer stands.
61 Turnpike Road, the John Foster house (1780) - The sign that hung at Foster's Tavern has been stored in a barn at the Ipswich Museum for a century.and reads, "I shoe the horse, I shoe the ox I carry the nails in my box I make the nail, I set the shoe, And entertain some strangers too."
26 North Main Street, the Agawam House (1806) - Nathaniel Treadwell built the second Treadwell's Inn in 1806. In the mid-1800s the inn was modernized with Victorian architectural elements and was renamed the Agawam House. It continued to be the town's first class hotel until it closed in the late 1920′s.
52 Jeffreys Neck Rd. Ipswich Ross Tavern 52 Jeffreys Neck Road, Ross Tavern – Lord Collins house (c 1690) - The house was moved from South Main Street in 1940 by David Wendel and restored to a high-style First Period appearance on the basis of observed physical evidence. The Collins-Lord house on High Street was moved and attached to the rear of this house.
White Horse Inn, Ipswich MA 34 High Street, the White Horse Inn (1659 / 1763) - John Andrews, innkeeper sold this lot with a house in 1659. The First Period structure was greatly altered and expanded after its purchase by Jeremiah Lord in 1763, and took its present appearance around 1800. It stayed in the Lord family into the 20th Century.
1 High Street, the Nathaniel Rogers Old Manse (1727) - The house was constructed for the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers in 1727 by Ipswich cabinet-maker, Capt. Abraham Knowlton. In the early 1900's the building was known as "ye Olde Burnham Inn". This house is protected by a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission.
Matthew Perkins house, 8 East Street, built in 1709 8 East Street, the Captain Matthew Perkins house (1701) - Winner of the 1991 Mary Conley Award, this well-preserved 1st Period house sits on a former orchard lot that was sold in 1701 by Major Francis Wainwright to Matthew Perkins, a weaver and soldier. In 1719 Perkins opened an inn and tavern in this house, "at the sign of the blue anchor."
Andrew Burley house, Green St., Ipswich 12 Green Street, the Andrew Burley house (1688) - Andrew Burley bought this lot in 1683 and built a house shortly thereafter. He became a wealthy merchant and updated the house with fine Georgian features. Burley was a justice of the Sessions Court and was elected representative to the General Court in 1741. Capt. John Smith purchased the house in 1760 from the estate of Andrew Burley’s widow Hannah and operated it as Smith's Tavern.
2 Poplar Street, Swasey Tavern (1718) 2 Poplar Street, Swasey Tavern (1718) - John Ayres built a house in 1693, and sold it in 1705 to John Whipple, who did extensive alterations. In 1725 Increase How purchased the "good mansion house” from Whipple and ran an inn. In 1789 President George Washington addressed the citizenry from these steps. It was owned by General Joseph Swasey in the early 19th Century.
Burnam-Patch House, 1 Turkey Shore 1 Turkey Shore Road, the Burnham-Patch-Day house c 1670-1730 - This house has a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission. The house was built by Thomas Burnham in 1730 on the foundation of the earlier house he bought in 1667. The large ell on Poplar Street was added in the early nineteenth-century. Abner Day bought the house of the heirs of John Patch in 1814 and kept a well-known tavern.
Puritans drinking Strong drink - Colonial liquor licenses were granted to Ipswich men of highest esteem. They were bound “not to sell by retail to any but men of family, and of good repute, nor sell any after sunset; and that they shall be ready to give account of what liquors they sell by retail, the quantity, time and to whom.”
Drunk Puritans in Plymouth Colony Drunkards, liars, a hog, a dog, a witch, “disorderly persons” and the innkeeper - As the young boys who arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich approached adulthood, they developed a fondness for hard liquor and rowdiness, which frequently landed them in court.
Hayes Hotel, Depot Square, Ipswich MA The Hayes Hotel - The Hayes Hotel was constructed in 1842 as a woolen goods factory. Converted to a tavern and hotel in 1885, the building was being used as a rooming house when it burned in 1969 with a loss of life.
Rowdy Nights at Quartermaster Perkins’ Tavern - The Quartermaster's house became the scene more than once of violent disorder. The company's behavior was so scandalous that the whole lot were summoned to Ipswich Court on May 1, 1672.
The Burley Tavern, Green St., Ipswich MA Two Taverns for Two Susannas - In the 1700s two of the finer inns in town were run by women, a mother and daughter both named Susanna. Although the two houses are both on corners of County Street, they were separated by the river.
Ross Tavern on S. Main Street, Ipswich MA The Ross Tavern - A small dwelling was moved in 1735 to the southeast side of the Choate Bridge where it was greatly expanded and became known as the Ross Tavern. The building was moved again in 1940 to the former Wendel Estate on Jeffreys Neck Road.

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6 replies »

  1. Gordon,
    who owns the Andrew Burley house at 12 Green Street, and has it been for sale recently? I remember you showing it to us when we were on your Sunday tour in early August.
    it sure is great to keep up with the goings on in Ipswich through your website.
    Dave Gregory(Hovey)
    Fountain Hills, AZ

  2. Fantastic story, as usual! Thank you, Gordon. The last part of the story should have mentioned that a developer came in, tore down both houses and put a Super Walmart in town — but the Walton family was kind enough to re-route traffic and give Ipswich money to re-pave the road. 🙂 Casey

    Casey W. Wright978.500.9232

    Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2014 22:30:36 +0000 To:

  3. Both of these homes happen to be in my neighboorhood. Thank you for sharing this very interesting history. Found it intriguing and educational. I look forward to more of your research on Ipswich history. Sarka

  4. Gordon, I’m a direct descendant of Elizabeth How who was hanged for a witch. She lived in the outer Linebrook area (where I live now). However, I was not aware of other How’s in Ipswich later on.. This is fascinating!! You are such a wonderful resource to our town. Thank you for all you do.

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