Some old stories, plus several shared on social media a few years ago:
A friend of mine mentioned that a few years ago a realtor was getting ready to go out the front door at the Jonathan Pulcifer house on Summer Street, when he noticed a stack of old publications sitting on the bottom step, and oddly enough, on top was an old article about him when he was a younger man. Something drew his attention to the head of the stairs, and there was the ghostly form of an old woman, staring back at him! We may have a photo of this ghost.
People used to say that the ghost of Harry Maine haunted the house that once sat where the garage now stands at the Jabesh Sweet house at 32 Water Street. All the ministers of the Town assembled there one day and prayed, and the uncanny doings ceased. Harry Maine was a pirate who ran with a gang of outlaws called “wreckers.” They would build bonfires on the beach to lure ships to the shore at night, then plunder their wrecked ships. Legend says that as punishment Harry was chained to the Ipswich Bar and forced to shovel sand for eternity. When waves crashed over the Ipswich sand bar during storms, locals would say, “The Devil is raising Old Harry.”
Many people mention the Wainwright-Treadwell house on East Street. An old story is told of a beautiful young Treadwell daughter who saw the ghost of her deceased evil sister in the well, and died of fright. The present owners were careful not to frighten their kids with the stories, but a couple of odd things happened anyway. Soon after moving in, a lamp fell off a table in the “haunted room” in the middle of the night. They learned that this was apparently a tradition for new owners of the house! Their young son came into the kitchen one day and asked why there was a bloody skeleton lying on the floor in the front room by the fireplace!
And there’s the old Johnson house on East Street where Captain Richard Lakeman supposedly kept his mentally challenged daughter in the attic. The Widow Fuller house on Summer Street has some spooky stories too. A couple of people mentioned a house on Ryan Ave. Mrs. Rice at Turner Hill has been seen many times!
The Auclair house on Sawyer Street was haunted, as well as the barn that was down the road. A member of that family confirmed, “I lived in a haunted house on Sawyer Street, and I can tell you a few stories!”
The Treadwell-Hale house on North Main Street had a ghost that “whispered by the top of the stairs back and forth towards the rear bedroom.”
A reader wrote, “The little gift shop on Elm St. near the police station is haunted. I watched a tourist take a picture of an item on the shelf in the center of the store. In the background there was a boy about 10-12 in old clothes watching. When she looked up to check her picture there was no boy there. Whoever she is, she still has the picture. I saw the picture, and the boy was as solid as you and I and there was no place for him to hide.” The first owner of the building at 4 Elm St, constructed in 1847, was Benjamin Kimball. He is shown as the owner in the 1856 and 1872 maps. In 1884 the owner was Thomas E. Condon. During the Great Depression, this building was the “Free Store” where poor people could get basic provisions.
One woman wrote, “Call me crazy but we lived in a house at 8 Kimball Avenue and I am sure we had a tall man who used to pull the blankets off my oldest daughter. She keep saying it was the tall man with the hat on. Every night it was the same thing. I thought she was kicking them off until I saw it happen with my own eyes. Never anything violent, just play stuff. Doors that were latched opening up!”
She’s referring to the Richards House that once sat at Lords Square. In 1940 the home was moved over the High Street bridge to this location, and Mutual built a new service station which now houses Tick’s Auto Service. A young woman also experienced hauntings while babysitting for families who lived in the house. She says the hauntings always happened in the attic. Her best friend experienced these occurrences with her, and said, “we would never sit alone in that house!”
A ghost reportedly haunts the William Spiller house just north of the Clam Box on Rt. 1A at 248 High Street. A psychic once felt oddly drawn to a corner of the basement, where she uncovered a small box buried in the ground with personal items. “My family lived in the Spiller house for years, and yes there are ghosts there. Weird things use to happen. My grandmother never believed my dad until the time she got up in the middle of the night and saw something going across from one room to another.”
We were told that the Polly Dole house is haunted. “There is a woman in white that only stays upstairs. A Patriot soldier was observed walking down walk down the stairs and into the living room. An upstairs bedroom was the habitation of a young girl approximately 12-14 yrs. old. She had blond braided hair, in Victorian garb (High collared white blouse that buttoned down the back, long skirt, and shoes that laced up.”
The Aaron Jewett House, a brown saltbox on outer High Street just before the Rowley line is said to be haunted. The attic door sometimes opens and closes by itself.
Deserted houses often feel haunted. “I think that old brown house at Linebrook Road and Route 1 (the John Foster House) is haunted. I swear I saw someone in the window with the white curtains.” The story of the John Foster house was told as an entertaining story by travelers far and wide. His title was corporal, his trade blacksmith, his business landlord and his sign read: “‘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.” At times he would not reply when questioned unless addressed by his title. He was as obliging and generous as he was eccentric.
A former occupant of the Sherborne Wilson-Samuel Appleton house on South Main Street next to the Choate Bridge said the house is haunted. “I lived in one of the front apartments and Sarah Appleton was very active to both myself and my neighbors across the hall. There were rocking chairs rocking, lights on and off, and once via Ouija board she told us she died of a ‘crag’…one definition I found was describing a respiratory infection.”
A sea captain named McMahon built the large Federal era house at 2 Labor in Vain Road on the corner with Turkey Shore Road in 1832. Two sisters who lived in the house swear that it is haunted.
In 1969 the Ipswich police received a call about a domestic dispute between a couple residing at 5 Spring Street. As they ascended the stairs to the second floor apartment where the couple had been arguing, they were met by a barrage of bullets from the man, who barely missed them. A shootout ensued, but the shooter finally was finally removed from the home, sent to the State Hospital, and no one was seriously injured. The man apparently had mental health problems, and is no longer living.
A woman who lived in the house later said she felt that it was haunted. “I always heard noises along the side of the house facing #3, rapping noises, thumping noises, creaks on the inside stairs. – we’d look out the door and windows to see if someone was there and never saw anyone!”
Our friend Susan S. Nelson wrote, “You can add 85 High St. to the list. Elizabeth Kimball Warner Lord was the heiress and it was her father’s land. We experienced poltergeist activity not long after we moved in as well as other sightings. After a while they stopped– I guess we were deemed acceptable owners!”
Kathleen Hegarty commented, “I’m at 82 High Street. Everyone else tells me that my house is haunted, but alas, they must be shy of me. Too bad. Thanks for posting this interesting piece!”
Our friend David Thayer wrote, ” I used to house-sit for friends at the Col. Wade house, at 88 County Rd. I would sleep in the front, south bedroom, facing the south green. My great-great grandparents are buried across the street, in the South Cemetery, and the first night that I spent in the house, I went to bed thinking that I’d be sleeping just across the street from them. Just as I was falling asleep, I sensed that an intruder was in the room with me. I was just about to drop off and had to struggle to awaken, yelling, ‘Who’s in here!’ A figure of a man, was standing at the foot of the bed – just a form, a smoke-filled, but solid shape, with no features – and from another era. I always think that his hair was tied in a colonial pigtail, though he was facing me, and I couldn’t see behind him. He was holding a small wreath in his left hand, which was down at his side. All In the same instant that I was trying to struggle awake, yelling, the figure glided a foot closer to the end of the bed, while raising and extending his arm with the wreath and then, was gone. It wasn’t frightening and I dropped right off to sleep. Mulling it over, the next day, I thought, at first, that the event had been a vivid dream, experienced, just before falling asleep, but then realized that I was awake when I saw the figure. I spent many nights in that room over several years, and never saw the figure again. The owners said that they’d never seen a ghost in the house.”
Stephanie Kilgour wrote, “I grew up there (83 High St.) and yes it’s haunted. There was paranormal activity on many occasions….I’m not saying it was witches but there were spirits and they have been seen, heard and moved objects on more than one occasion and yes more than one sighting was in a rocking chair. I’m finding it funny how so many people have commented that it’s not haunted and they know the truth. I know the truth through my experience living in that house.”
6 thoughts on “Haunted houses of Ipswich”
Love it, love it, love it! I don’t call them ghosts really – they are “earthbound spirits” for whatever reason or another …
Pretty sure the Lummus House is haunted in the section between where the house used to be divided.
My house I grew up in was haunted lots of things happened there lights went on and off knocking on walls windows closed by themselves radios turned them selves on in one certain room it was hard to keep pictures on the wall and other things happened there the house was on 4 Ryan Ave Ipswich
Fun reading about the houses! I was particularly interested in the comment about “Old Harry”. My mother use to say that one or the other of us was full of the Old Harry. Years later I learned that it was another name for the devil. Now there is this story making a similar connection.
My best childhood friend grew up in the Nathaniel Wade house Her house was without a doubt haunted, her mother’s room was the room Mr. Thayer was speaking of, but not the only activity in the house. The attic, basement and the small entryway in the front that connected the great room and “piano parlor” were particularly so, enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
My house was definitely haunted it was on 4 ryan Ave there was knocking on walls lights going on and off rocking chairs rocked all by themselves and pictures would fall all by themselves and there were other things also