Labor in Vain house, Ipswich

“Labor in Vain House,” c.1720 (Labor in Vain-Fox Creek private road)

The Labor in Vain Farm House sits on 284 acres between the gates at the end of Labor in Vain and Fox Rd. Records for the construction dates vary. The previous owners of the house had a sign on it with the date 1720, but the Ipswich Historical Commission records date it to 1680 / 1741.

A further point of confusion is the address. The Historical Commission gives the address as “51 Labor in Vain, formerly Fox Creek.” The Ipswich Patriot Properties site lists it as #10, building 3, Fox Creek Rd. The Ipswich assessors card has the following note: “Gated. No Access, August 2020. Address changes per public safety. 10 Fox Creek = Main House, bldg. 1. 10 Fox Creek bldg. 2 is house in need of repair near water and was 21 Fox Creek. 10 Fox Creek (bldg 3) was red, brown house.” The present owners have a huge sign on the front of the building with the number 31.

This house has late First Period features, in the form of an exposed, decorated frame, are seen in the right-hand room and chamber. In the right-hand room, the longitudinal summer beam, the chimney girt, the front (south east) corner post and the chimney posts have inch-wide flat chamfers and lamb’s tongue stops. The chimney post has the added embellishment of a taper stop near the floor. In the right-hand chamber, all the framing is exposed and has inch-wide flat chamfers and lamb’s tongue stops. Rising braces are exposed in the rear wall of this room, suggesting the possibility of plank frame construction. In the attic, a principal rafter/common purlin roof made with oak timbers is visible.

Later features:

The house retains Second Period trim on the fireplace walls in the right-hand room and left-hand chamber, including panelled cupboard doors in the downstairs room and raised-field panelling and a bold bolection-molded fireplace surround in the upstairs room. Trim in the Federal style including mantel pieces is found in the right-hand chamber and the c. 1810 wing to the left.


The 1832 Ipswich map shows this location as “John Choate’s Farm.” Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that the area between Argilla Road and the Essex Road was originally granted by the Town to John Winthrop Jr. Part of the Argilla farm came into the possession of John Choate before 1832, was inherited by his heirs and later by Nathaniel Kinsman and his heirs. The 1910 Ipswich map shows the owner as E. M. Haskell. The Haskell heirs sold it to Richard T. Crane.

The house is known locally as the Beloselsky estate and is referred to historically as the Labor In Vain Road house. This private extension of Labor in Vain was the Beloselsky private driveway and connects via Fox Creek Rd. to Argilla Road. In the first half of the 20th Century, Richard T. Crane established a golf course on the estate.

A question about Henry Bennett

Sue Nelson’s Partial List of Historic Houses created in 2006 refers to this property as Bennett’s Farm at Wigwam Hill, but this is uncertain . Henry Bennett, born in England, was one of the early settlers of Ipswich. “In 1654 Henry Bennett bought of Jonathan Wade a farm of two hundred acres situated in what is now the southeastern part of Ipswich, and having for its southern boundary Castle Neck Creek, part of the present dividing line between Ipswich and Essex. The other bounds were on lands of Mr. Symonds, Mr. Saltonstall and the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers. This farm he occupied more than forty years, and sold it but little changed in bounds and area to John Wainwright, in1698.”

He sold his farm to John Wainwright in 1698 and died in 1707. Bennett also owned land on Hog Island, Castle Neck and Plum Island. A suit was brought against Bennett in 1684 by Daniel Epps who owned the area around Castle Hill, for enticing away and harboring his Indian boy, Lyonel, who had come to Ipswich with his destitute mother and grandmother, and camped on Wigwam Hill, which is in the Castle Neck dunes. The Bennett farm may have been closer to the intersection of Fox Creek and Argilla Roads. Source: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 29.

Sources and Further Reading:

  • Anne Grady, for the Massachusetts Historical Commission, 1986. View MACRIS


2 thoughts on ““Labor in Vain House,” c.1720 (Labor in Vain-Fox Creek private road)”

  1. Henry Bennett was my 8th great grandfather. There is a website called Ipswichbennett. com where many of Henry ‘s dna tested descendants have connected. Check it out if you think you might be related to us.

  2. I wish to learn the history of the name “Labor in Vain”. I understand there is a creek, a road, and a house of that name.

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