The brick building at 61 Market Street on the corner with Depot Square was built in 1982 and is owned by Market Street LLC. This is the third commercial building at that location, after the previous ones were destroyed by fires.
The corner lot on the Topsfield Road and Bridge Street (as Washington Street was originally called) is believed to have been granted to settler Richard Lumpkin, who died before 1642. Daniel Warner owned the lot in 1682, followed by Isaac Littlehale, whose son Joseph sold Emerson Cogswll an acre with a house and barn in 1731.
Mortgages were conveyed to Thomas Burnham in 1760, and the lot stayed in the Burnham family until 1833, when it was sold to George W. Heard, who split the lot and sold half to James and Sanford Peatfield. The brothers who built a brick factory that later became the Hayes Hotel, which also burned in the 20th Century with a loss of life.
The reduced corner lot was mortgaged to Jeremiah Smith in 1855, and he sold to Curtis Damon in 1865. Mr. Damon moved the old court building from the North Green to the corner of Market Street and Depot Square where it became known as the “Damon Block.”
Construction of the present Ascension Church began in 1869 and was completed in 1875. The Episcopal congregation met for several years at “Damon Hall,” which I believe is the building directly behind the Methodist Church in the photo above. It had formerly been the Ipswich Town House and appears to have been moved down the hill where it stood for about a decade, and then was moved once again to Depot Square. The old Episcopal parsonage is at the location now.
In January 1894, all of Central Street from Market Street to Wildes Court was destroyed by fire. On April 17 of the same year the Damon building at the other end of Market Street burned to the ground.
A new three floor Damon Block was constructed and was considered by many to be the most beautiful building in town. Over the years it was home to the New England Telephone Company, John Blake’s drugstore, the French Society of Artisans, the Cash Division Grocery store, Clapton’s Wholesale Vegetable Store, Scahill’s Barber Shop and Damon Furniture.
In 1946 this new Damon Building was severely damaged by fire and the building was reconstructed without the third floor. The building burned again and was totally destroyed in a 1982 fire, after which it was replaced by the building we see at that corner today.