The Middle Green

Screenshot from the 1893 Birdseye map of Ipswich

Meeting House Green is the historic center of Ipswich, and is also known as the North Green. The South Village Green was for two centuries called School House Green and served as the Colonial training ground. The Selectmen in 2018 approved naming the one in the middle “Middle Green.” The area has an interesting history.

Ipswich Visitor Center at the Middle Green
The Ipswich Visitor Center anchors the north side of the lawn. In front of it is the Vivian Endicott Memorial Garden, named for the woman whose efforts saved the Hall-Haskell house from demolition. In the distance on the right is the Veterans Memorial.
Faith's Garden at the Riverwalk
Across South Main Street at the entrance to the Riverwalk footbridge is Faith’s Garden, a memorial to Faith Lamb Bryan, who played a vital role in founding the Quebec Labrador Foundation, headquartered in Ipswich. The circle of stones is inscribed with a poem by the Sufi poet Rumi, which reads,“Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love.”
The John Heard House, now the Ipswich Museum.
At the south end of the lawn is the 19th Century home of John Heard. His son Augustine Heard began the removal of buildings along this side of South Main Street to extend his lawn for the citizens to enjoy. The mansion is now the Ipswich Museum. Its official name is the Waters Memorial Museum, named after the founder of the Ipswich Historical Society, Thomas Franklin Waters, who wrote the two-volume set, “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”
Veterans Memorial at the Middle Green
In 1938 the Town of Ipswich purchased the north part of the Heard lawn and five years later erected an Honor Role in that location. In 1985 the Veterans Memorial Committee raised sufficient funds to replace it with the present Veterans Memorial, which honors the men and women who have fought in all wars.
Screenshot from the 1832 Ipswich map. The Amos Jones house sat at the corner of Elm and South Main. In 1833 the Unitarians built a sanctuary at that location, but 10 years later they sold it to the town and it became the Old Town Hall/District Court building that is now a condominium. The Widow Haskell house is now the Ipswich Visitor Center.

Until the 19th Century, this side of South Main Street was lined with houses. Sue Nelson wrote that “What we see today as a ‘green’ was once packed with dwellings and artisan workshops. This area would have been vital, busy, noisy and probably smelly with the nearby working waterfront on the Ipswich River.”

When John Heard in 1795 built the mansion that is now the Ipswich Museum, he moved the John Calef house that stood on that location to Poplar St. and extended his lawn along South Main to the Hall-Haskell house.

The Unitarians built the original building, which was later purchased by the Town of Ipswich. The structure shown above was raised and a first floor was added below it.

The Unitarians built a church near the intersection of South Main and Elm Streets, which became the Old Town Hall, aka District Court building, that is now a condominium complex known as “The District.”

Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that John Caldwell Jr. took down the ancient Amos Jones house, and sold his whole lot with buildings to John Heard, August 3, 1864 (675:276). In 1866 the Town took a strip of land, which included the site of the old Jones homestead, and moved the Town Hall a few feet to a new foundation, and added a first floor under the original building.

The Hall-Haskell house was also destined for the Town’s wrecking ball but was spared by the efforts of Vivian Endicott, Paul McGinley and other volunteer preservationists. The Widow Haskell’s house is now the home of Ipswich Arts and the Ipswich Visitor Center.
Photo from the 1938 HABS survey of historic buildings in Ipswich
Photo taken from the front of 57 South Main Street from the 1938 Historic Buildings Survey. Across the street is the home built by William Appleton and occupied by his daughter Sally Choate. It was taken down by the town of Ipswich, and the Veterans Memorial sits at that location now.
S. Main
William Appleton - Sally Choate house
The William Appleton /Sally Choate house was near where the war memorial is now.

Alice Keenan wrote that John Heard’s son Augustine “always sought to acquire, move or tear down those houses surrounding the (South) Green in an effort to enhance and preserve the park-like setting he so admired….The old Crompton Inn, built in 1693 and later the home of Colonel Choate, the builder of the bridge, was torn down in 1836 and the land was sold to Heard.”

The Heards left standing the William Appleton house where Sally Choate ran a shop. Susan S. Nelson contributed the history of the building:

“This house was more properly known as the William Appleton house, built in 1766 by Appleton, an important Ipswich joiner/cabinetmaker. His daughter was Sally Choate, but Appleton was undoubtedly responsible for the elaborate woodwork inside and outside the house. Appleton also shipped his furniture in the coastal trade, and the Ipswich Museum archives held at the library contain receipts from local sea captains who shipped and sold his products. His home was considered important enough that it was recorded in measured drawings by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in the 1930s. Your can view these drawings online in the HABS digital collection.”

South Main St., Ipswich

A trolley on South Main Street. The Sally Choate house is on the right, and behind it is the Heard House, which is the Ipswich Museum. The Whipple House had not yet been moved to the location across the street from the Museum, but the postcard shows that the area that is now Sally’s Pond was also undeveloped.

South Main St. in the 1884 Ipswich map
1884 Ipswich map

The 1884 Ipswich map shows that the estate of Augustine Heard included the site of the Whipple House and Sally’s Pond, as well as the entire block between South Main, Elm and County Streets, with the exception of the Old Town Hall and the South Congregational Church. Heard acquired the lot of the church vestry, which was moved to 10 Hammatt Street in 1885. He also owned the house at 16 Elm St., which is now at the Smithsonian Museum. The South Congregational Church lot is now part of the Ipswich Museum grounds.

Sally’s Pond, originally “Centennial Pond”

We can imagine people taking a stroll on Augustine Heard’s lawn between business at the Old Town Hall and the District Court. Alice Heard was the last member of the family to live in the Heard mansion, and sold it to the Ipswich Historical Society in 1936. Bill Varrell wrote that when Alice Heard indicated in 1938 that Sally Choate’s former home might become the site of a service station, the Town purchased the lot, tore down the house, and constructed a wooden Veterans Memorial on the spot where the granite memorial now stands.

The Veterans Memorial

Ipswich Veterans Memorial
Ipswich Veterans Memorial

Report of the Honor Roll Committee

from the 1944 Ipswich Town Report

“At the Annual Town Meeting held in March 1944 this committee was appointed to arrange for the erection of an Honor Roll to commemorate the services of all Ipswich men and women in the Armed Forces of our country. In carrying out its obligation the committee first canvassed the townspeople for an expression of opinion as to the best possible location for this Memorial. Several tentative sites were proposed for study, and after due consideration, the greater number of people finally determined upon the property owned by the Town on South Main Street as the proper location.”

“Thereafter, through the cooperation of the Board of Selectmen, this site was turned over to the committee. The Highway Department volunteered their services and were instrumental in filling in the cellar of the dwelling house that formerly existed on this property, and graded the land to the level of the adjacent sidewalk. Through the good offices of the Park Department the land was seeded and cared for, and a lawn was grown, and a pathway laid out to the base of the Honor Roll.”

“Donald J. T. Hamm of Ipswich designed the Honor Roll and assisted in its erection. We believe that the Town has every right to feel pleased with the location finally selected and the park-like appearance of the grounds. The Honor Roll itself is one of the most imposing in this vicinity and reflects great credit to the Town. There are over one thousand names on the Honor Roll at the present time, and room has been left for an additional three hundred names.”

“On November 26, 1944 the Honor Roll was dedicated. A parade was organized and speakers were secured, and a gathering of several hundreds of our townspeople witnessed the unveiling of the Honor Roll. It was considered to be a most inspiring occasion, and our thanks go to all those individuals and organizations that in any way contributed toward the success of this event.”

“It is our intention to beautify the grounds as presently laid out with the addition of such ornamental shrubs and trees as would seem fitting and proper. The committee is inserting an article in the Warrant for the Annual Town Meeting requesting an appropriation of a sum of money to carry out this purpose.”

Respectfully submitted,



Harold Bowen wrote in Tales of Olde Ipswich about an earlier memorial at this location

Veterans Memorial in Ipswich
Harold Bowen wrote in 1975 about the previous Veterans Memorial at this location.

1884 Town Meeting


“To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate a sum of money for the purpose of replacing the Veterans’ Honor Roll on South Main Street, an equal sum of money to be made available for said purpose from the Veterans’ Memorial Committee; or to take any other action relative thereto.”

“Jacob Burridge moved for indefinite postponement. Seconded. The Committee to replace the Veterans’ memorial on South Main Street has reached 80% of its goal. Unanimous voice vote.”

The Memorial Green

Ipswich Middle Green map
Connecting green spaces from the Old South Cemetery to the Ipswich Town Hall

This lawn is an extension of the greenway that extends from the Old South Cemetery to the Old Town Hall. Perhaps some day the Riverwalk behind the EBSCO building will finally be extended across South Main Street through the unnamed Green to County Street where it can connect to the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk. Regardless of the name eventually chosen, one thing most of us agree on is that it should not become the location of a new Public Safety building, as was proposed in the past.


5 thoughts on “The Middle Green”

  1. My siblings older brother Richard, sister Judy and youngest brother played in front of the Veterans memorial when we were young 11/12 years old. I have photos somewhere.
    I was kicking a football one day and dislocated the sinew from my knee area and was unable to lift my lower leg. Dr. Palotta put a brace on my knee to have me walk stiff legged until it knitted back in place. Oh, we lived at 35 South Main St. over Gus Vlahos shoe store. His daughter Tanya sold shoes and she was always quite friendly with all of the Hudson family.
    Our Grandmother on my mothers side came to live with us for a while and she was always busy making plain donuts in a large pot, using lard at a high temp and I still remember the dough sinking into the hot lard and eventually rising up to float then with a stick Nanna would flip the donut once to cook on the other side. She then bagged a dozen in a plain paper bag and I took them over to the Town Hall and sold them for a dollar a bag. I usually had to go back home to bring more donuts. They were still warm to the touch and fresh. Lots of memories sliding out of this old head that picks me up for the day. Thanks for allowing me too share, Carl

  2. Good history of that area Gordon. Personally, we always called it the War Memorial. Why does this require a new name?

    1. The monument was called the Veterans Memorial when it was created, and the previous monument was called the Honor Role, but the lawn/green on which it stands has never been named.

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