One of the older established ways in town, Washington Street may have started as a footpath for Native Americans long before John Winthrop and the first settlers arrived. Today’s Washington Street was called once called Bridge Street, and for two centuries was known as Gravel Street for the two gravel pits on the hillside. It took a right turn to High Street at Lords Square on what is now Liberty Street. In the19th Century, small and moderate sized Victorian houses replaced many of the original structures in the old colonial neighborhood.
Before Washington Street was reconstructed in 2011, it had become an eyesore with huge swaths of cracked pavement and a buckling sidewalks (when there was one at all.) The redesigned road is a tremendous improvement in aesthetics and safety. Visitors see a well-preserved neighborhood that compliments the historic character of our town, and the community has a safer way to walk to stores, schools and Bialek Park.
The Great Wall of Washington Street
Developer John Colantoni recently went before the Planning and Design Review Boards with plans to build 16 townhouses at the location of the existing car wash on Washington Street, near the intersection with Mineral Street. The “design” is by ASB Design Group of Topsfield. The proposed construction would provide little green space, increasing by 5,380 square feet an already hideous amount of impervious surface, which the developer claims to address by capturing stormwater in a retention system, with “landscaping rain gardens” instead of yards. The four story height of the wall of structures would have roof decks for its inhabitants, who are assumed to be willing and capable of climbing four flights of stairs to get from room to room. Plans show 48 parking spots, 32 of which would be in garages that take up almost the entire first floor of the monstrous proposal.
Ipswich zoning bylaw has a “Footnote 11” that applies to the Intown Residential zone (IR) and provides a so-called density bonus in exchange for making two units “affordable.” An article on the warrant for town meeting on October 16 will give Ipswich residents the opportunity to abolish the density bonus and return some semblance of sanity to the explosion of massive condominium proposals in our small town. This particular lot is zoned for business, and would not be subject to removal of Footnote 11 in the IR district.
A group of Ipswich citizens has organized to oppose and block the construction of such massive developments in our small and historic community, including the proposal for the former Brunis, as well as the Washington Street project. Visit Ipswich Citizens for Sustainable Development on the Facebook page.
Historic houses on Washington Street
Information is from MACRIS, the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System. Photos are from the Ipswich Patriot Properties database.
78 Washington Street, the Daniel Haskell House (1835)-The Federal trim and substantial chimneys identify this house as perhaps the earliest of the story-and-one-third 19th century cottages on Linebrook. It is uncertain which Daniel Haskell Sr. or Jr. was the owner. Records show that both died of dementia.
59 Washington Street, the Charles W. Bamford house (C 1887)-This house was built between 1884 and 1888 for Charles W. Bamford, who was at various times in his career the Town Clerk, Treasurer, and Justice of the Peace. The elaborative cornices and multiple colors of paint are a mix of Italianate and Queen Anne Victorian.
46 Washington Street, the James S. Marble- James Peatfield house (1860)-This two-family house was came into the possession of Sanford and James Peatfield in 1859. James Peatfield came to America in 1827. He built one of the first lace machines in this country, and invented a warp machine, after which he began manufacturing woolen underwear. Together with his brother, Sanford, Peatfield built a brick mill on Washington Street.
37 Washington Street, the Brown-Grossman-Doucette house (1884)-This house was built by 1884 by George V. Brown, one of several houses he built on a large parcel. Brown operated a large hay & grain business nearby at Brown Square and lived on Liberty Street. In 1916 this house was occupied by Charles (& Mary) Grossman and Denis (& Maggie) Doucette.
32 Washington Street, the Frederick Bray – Daniel Nourse House (c 1870)-The first owner of this house, built around 1865 was Frederick Bray, a Civil War veteran. By 1884 it was owned by Daniel P. and Sarah Nourse. Nourse died by 1888 and the house was sold. By 1916 it was occupied by Dennis and Nora Monahan. Dennis is listed in town directories as a mason.
31 Washington Street, the George Brown house (1883)-John A. Brown sold this lot to George B. Brown in 1883 and he built a house shortly thereafter. Brown’s house is one of the few Stick Style Victorian homes in Ipswich. Brown built a grist mill, also located on Washington St., in 1881. He started with a single team and by 1888 employed 6 men. Brown was the first in the area to install a roller mill, which removed all foreign iron substances from the grain before it entered the mill
31 Washington St., the Laffy – Chapman – Morrill house (c 1880)-This house was built between 1872 and 1884. By 1884 it was owned by Michael Laffy; Laffy is listed in town directories as a laborer. By 1910 the house was owned by Walter Chapman, a farmer who lived on Pineswamp Road and presumably rented this house. In 1916 the house was occupied by Euclid A. and Charolette B. Morrill. In 1924 it was occupied by Insurance agent William F. Connor and his wife Mary.
18 Washington Street, Sanford Peatfield House (1860)-This house was built for Sanford and Mary Peatfield around 1860. Sanford and James Peatfield built a brick mill on Washington Street and continued making woolen underwear until about 1877. The factory became the Hayes Hotel, and burned in the 20th Century.
12 Washington Street, the Patrick Riley house (1880)-This house was built between 1872 and 1884 for Patrick and Ellen Riley. Riley was a farmer and he and his wife owned this house and the one at #16. By 1924 this house was occupied by Maurice and Mary Blaquiere.