52-54 High Street, the Henry Kingsbury – Robert Lord house (1660)

Kingsbury House, 52 High St., Ipswich MA
Henry Kingsbury Robert Lord House, 52 High St.

This gorgeous large house dates to 1660. The front is asymmetrical, and the west end is the older original section. Chamfered timbers can still be observed in the stone foundation for one of its chimneys. It was once used as a private school. Henry Kingsbury, the earliest known owner of this lot, is first mentioned in Ipswich Records of 1638. The oldest elements of the present house date to 1660, the year Kingsbury sold a house and lot to Robert Lord (2:10), but they may be from earlier in Kingsbury’s ownership. Key features of this house include a hidden room, 10 fireplaces with delicate Federal details (added by the Lords when they redecorated in 1790

In A Walking tour of Ipswich we read that “While the builder Henry Kingsbury was the original owner of this house, it is another example of a house that was owned for many years by the Lord family. At one time, the house was owned by 3 different people.” In 1669 this attractive First Period house was purchased by Robert Lord Jr., who helped draft the town’s first fire laws and personally inspected many town chimneys.

Kingsbury Lord house, High Street, Ipswich MA
Photo from the MACRIS site, circa 1980

Many legends surrounded the enigmatic Robert Lord Jr. He, like many Ipswich men, served in the Indian wars. Although he was short in stature, he was one of the strongest and most fearless men in the military service, and in fact became so accustomed to camp life that he could never afterwards sleep upon a feather bed.

A story was told that a group of Indians was confronted by Robert Lord’s unit, and the Indians proposed that the dispute be settled by the champions of the two parties. Robert Lord walked to the front as champion of the colonists. The Indians selected the tallest and strongest of their tribe, nearly seven feet in stature. Lord and the Indian were to meet at full run and wrestle with the “Indian hug”, which the Indians anticipated would be an easy victory.

They ran toward each other and in an instant the Indian lay stretched upon the earth. Shouts of encouragement by the colonists could be heard throughout the forest. The Indians demanded a rematch, and in this second encounter Lord used the “hip-lock” on his antagonist and threw him with such force that a blood vessel was ruptured in the fall. The Indians carried him from the arena, fully acknowledging defeat.


  • T.F. Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, vol. I, pp. 363, 66, 83, 139, vol. II, pp. 108, 700.

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