William Howard House, Turkey Shore, Ipswich MApreservation

2021 Mary Conley Award

Mary P. Conley award - Every year since 1992, the IHC has presented the Mary P. Conley Preservation Award, named in honor of Mary for her endless dedication to preserving historical sites. The award may be given to the owners of an Ipswich property which is deemed noteworthy for a recent restoration or general improvement, or to an individual for outstanding service.

The Ipswich Historical Commission presented the 2021 Mary Conley Award for historic preservation to Tess & Tom Schutte, owners of the William Howard house at 41 Turkey Shore Rd.

Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the early history of the land and house in Volume 1 of Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The left side of the William Howard house on Turkey Shore Road across from the intersection with Green Street was built about 1680 by William Howard. The right side was added in 1709. William Howard was born about 1634 and died at age 75 in Ipswich. He was granted “liberty to fall trees” in 1670. His gravestone reads: “Here Lyes ye Body of William Houeard who died July ye 25th, 1709 in ye 74 year of his age.”

Arthur Wesley Dow was born in Ipswich in On April 6, 1857. After studying art in Worcester and Boston, he enrolled at the Academie Julian in Paris. From 1891 to 1906 he and his wife Minnie Pearson ran the Ipswich Summer School of Art from his home (the 1680 Emerson-Howard house) on Turkey Shore Road. He is said to have saved the house from destruction.

Arthur Wesley Dow istudents
Arthur Wesley Dow is on the left in the second row, shown here with his students in the rear of the house.

Preservation of the William Howard House

by Tess Schutte

We purchased The William Howard House on June 29, 1992, from private owners.
Early in the 20th century, the renowned Ipswich artist, Arthur Wesley Dow, owned the house, which he used as a teaching studio. His widow donated the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Atiquities (SPNEA), which maintains covenants on some of its architectural features. SPNEA is now known as Historic New England.
With the approval of SPNEA and Abbot Lowell Cummings, the eminent expert on First Period houses, we removed the reproduction leaded casement windows and installed double-hung sashes in their historic openings. Bob Bettcher of New Hampshire undertook the initial restoration phrases.
The early window framework was still evident within the house walls. According to Cummings, the casement windows were mere conjecture, as there was no evidence of their prior location or their size.
John Butler, a graduate of the North Bennet Street School in Boston handcrafted reproduction 9/6 and 6/6 windows throughout the house, and early glass window panes were inserted.
Abbott Lowell Cummings was pleased to see the original early wall panels that divide the Great Hall, as well as the north and south chambers on the second floor. He noted that original room divider panels seldom remain in historic homes. As a result of his assessment, we added a covenant to protect our original early walls. 
With SPNEA’s approval, we replaced the inappropriate entrance door with a very early door that came from another First Period Essex County house. As luck would have it, it fit exactly into the door opening of our home.
Much of our early restoration work consisted of reroofing with cedar shingles, repairing early plaster walls and ceilings, repairing wood panels and doors. We found and installed early, appropriate period doors and hardware to replace those that were missing.
We also located early, wide unpainted floorboards to replace later flooring throughout the house. Peter Lord, an expert on early plastering techniques, did the necessary plaster repairs.

Highly regarded mason, Richard Irons, repaired the chimney from the attic floor to its top. Phillip C. Marshall, professor and Director of Historic Preservation Program, Roger Williams University in Rhode Island collected and documented paint samples and analyzed the layers of paint in each room. Based upon his findings we selected paint colors for the wood trim and paneling. Phillip collected clay samples, cooked them, and identified a range of red stains that would be appropriate for the exterior windows sashes. Over time, we upgraded plumbing, heating, and electrical service.

One of our early goals was to remove as much plumbing as we could from the early rooms. The first floor bathroom was removed from the rear corner room the Great Hall.
Restored rear corner of the Great Hall. 
We converted the existing makeshift kitchen in the early 18th century ell into a small sitting room and installed a powder room under the back stairway in that room.
New sitting room
A new kitchen was constructed as an addition to the old ell.
New kitchen ell attached to the rear of the house
The original, small barn on the property, c 1735, had no foundation and was supported by two old dead trees on opposite sides.
The barn was taken down, each piece numbered and then reconstructed on a stone foundation, on its original site.
John Wastrom, an expert in historic stone masonry, did the work on our property buildings.
Jim Ialeggio of Architectural Designs in Wood, in Shirley, Mass., custom designed and constructed our wooden storm windows and screens so that they would conceal and minimalize hardware and not overlap the exterior window frames nor obstruct the view of double-hung window sashes. Period Lighting made 3 custom copies of a lamppost found in Historic Deerfield to serve as our exterior lighting.
Early on, Rudy Favretti, former professor of landscape architecture at the U. of Connecticut and an expert on early New England landscapes, guided us in improving the landscape, beginning with removing weak and invasive trees and undergrowth in the back woodsy area, and pruning and nurturing established trees. He redesigned the front driveway pattern and selected the materials for it. He also suggested the varieties of trees to plant, as well as the appropriate fencing – picket, solid board, and rail – to use in different parts of our property. Later, we regraded some areas and added two drainage wells to prevent run-off from flooding our yard and cellar
Rudy claimed that our home would have had a carriage house and indicated its appropriate location. Years later, we learned that the nearby Col. Nathanial Wade carriage house or barn on County Road was scheduled for demolition if no one were found to take it down. Aaron Sturgis of Maine, whose specialty is restoring early barns and timber framing, took down the carriage house, numbered and tagged its parts, and stored them until he reconstructed it on our property in 2008.
 Also around that time, he constructed a one-story, Cape Cod style ell that extended our kitchen dining area, and added a full-size bathroom, a laundry room, and a large family room.
Automobile crashes into the First Period Howard House on Turkey Shore Road in Ipswich
On the evening of April 10, 2019, an out-of-control automobile descended Green Street and crashed into the Howard House.
In the hallway above the front door, the front wall plaster was shattered and the flooring was knocked out of line. The front wall of the Great Hall was also damaged and plaster in all of the early rooms sustained cracking from the force of the impact. As requested by Historic New England and in keeping with early plastering, our restoration contractor for the project, Mark Kilgour of Ipswich, applied lime plaster for the necessary repairs, a time-consuming and tedious process.
A structural engineer said that half of the house would have collapsed if the car had hit the house two feet farther right or left.
The doorframe split in half, the façade of the entry hall was demolished, various hallway trim was damaged, and the front stairs to the cellar and to the second floor were shifted out of place. Our contractor, Mark, and his team located a very early white oak girt to replace the damaged one. He saved as much as possible of the original wood trim and panels by gluing split pieces together and he used old wood for replacements where necessary. The early front door was saved and an appropriate new storm door constructed.
The “Great Hall” in the left (oldest) side of the William Howard house
William Howard house, Ipswich
Parlor (downstairs right) in the William Howard house
William Howard House, Turkey Shore, Ipswich MA
It took almost two years to complete repairs and to get our living arrangements back in order, but now there is no evidence of past damage and we continue to enjoy the beautiful historic home that we have loved for 29 years.

Further reading:

41 Turkey Shore Road, the William Howard House (c.1680/ 1709) - William Howard, hatter, bought this lot in 1679 from Daniel Ringe. Architectural evidence suggests that Howard removed the 1638 home of Thomas Emerson and built the left side of the present house about 1680. The right side was added in 1709. From 1891 to 1906 Arthur Wesley Dow and his wife ran the Ipswich Summer School of Art here.

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6 replies »

  1. Looks like the older section has wide chamfers with lambs tongue stops; how about the 1709 section? Pictures? And can you ask the owners why they haven’t done dendrochronology?

    • I added another photo of the older downstairs section. In the HABS photo that room had been boxed. The right (1709) side is still boxed and is Georgian in appearance. If I can find a photo I will add it to the post. Make sure to click on the link to the house from the Mary Conley Award page.

  2. I am always interested in Historic Ipswich posts as one of my Carr ancestors settled in early IPSWICH. This post was doubly interesting, as my husband is acquainted with Rudy Favretti. Thank you!

  3. What a beautiful and complete restoration of an outstanding early home. Thanks to the owners who have so lovingly preserved this wonderful piece of history for all of us and our heirs to learn from and appreciate its beauty!

  4. Martha and Warren Grant and their 3 daughters lived on Turkey Shore Dr. I remember going to their house lots. My Mom, Ilene Smith Ramsey, was very good friends with the Grants.

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