The land on which this house sits was given to Nathaniel Rogers, the second minister in Ipswich. His great grandson Daniel Rogers sold the Rogers homestead, “a certain messauge” to John Baker in 1761 for £160. (110:94). Thomas Franklin Waters believed that Baker built the present house, but it is more likely that he purchased the lot with the home of the recently deceased Rev. John Rogers, and remodeled the inside with Georgian features.
The appearance of the house suggests that it was constructed earlier, but there is no written documentation. The house has an asymmetrical front facade with two over two bays, the left rooms being larger. A single window is on the end of each room. The exterior shows a steep pitched roof with minimal eaves. This style of construction was common during the First Period during the late 17th Century Century and suggests a house constructed between 1680 and 1720.
While many First Period half-houses were double in width with the right and left sides of different proportions, it was also often the case that central chimney First Period houses were constructed intentionally with the “hall” side larger than the “parlor.” In a 1638 letter to John Winthrop Jr., Samuel Symonds gave instructions for how his house should be constructed: “Concerning the frame of the house…It makes no great matter though there be no partition upon the first floor; if there be, make one bigger than the other.” The Rogers-Brown house at 83 County Rd. has a similarly asymmetrical facade, and originally sat nearby facing the South Green. Several Ipswich and Essex County First Period Houses built in the era between 1680 and 1720 share a similar size and configuration.
The original, front part of the house is typical of the timber-framed hall-and-parlor style which began in post-medieval England. In this style, the two adjoining rooms are separated by a massive chimney, the entrance and stairway to the second floor rooms. The larger of the two downstairs rooms is the hall, which is the family room and was also used for cooking before rear additions were added. The smaller of the downstairs rooms is the parlor, a more private living space sometimes used as a bedroom. Because of the different sized rooms, the windows viewed from the front of the house are often asymmetrically placed. Common dimensions for a hall and parlor house were between 16 to 20 feet deep and up to 40 ft. wide for a central chimney house.
Exterior Structural Observations
The outward appearance of the house suggests that the frame of the house was constructed within a couple of decades of the beginning of the 18th Century based on the following observations:
- Asymmetrical front facade is typical of houses built in the First Period. The Georgian era begins in approximately 1720, and within a short period of time almost all houses were being built with the door centered.
- The roof pitch is steep, typical of First Period houses. The lack of a significant overhang or cornice is found in houses of the 17th Century.
- The original house is a single bay deep, the traditional early hall and parlor layout, only 19′ deep, and with a single window at the end on each floor. The layout and size are almost identical to the Rogers and Brown Bed and Breakfast at 83 County Rd. That house was constructed before 1710 at its original location facing the Green, across from the John Baker House. It was purchased in 1750 by Samuel Rogers, and was moved to its present location in 1837 when the South Church was built.
- The frame appears to be entirely of oak. By the middle of the 18th Century pine was being used more frequently. The earliest timbers were pit sawn, which show irregular saw marks. The saw cuts in the timbers in this house were produced by a saw mill, which were in use well before the 18th Century.
- The Asher Benjamin front doorway is a Greek Revival alteration, similar to the Hodgkins-Lakeman house at 79 East. St.
Asymmetrical Hall and Parlor Framing
The John Baker house is one room deep with single windows, suggesting that it is an earlier house that was “Georganized” in the mid-18th Century.
On the Historic Ipswich site, First Period houses of Essex County, it’s useful to compare the features of the John Baker house with other asymmetrical central chimney “hall and parlor” houses in surrounding communities and Ipswich, including the Joseph Bolles house, 30 High St., (1722), the Daniel Lummus house 39 – 41 High Street, (1686), the Hodgkins – Lakeman House, 76 East Street, (c1690), the Reginald Foster house, 6 Water Street, (1690), the Nathaniel Hovey house, 11 Summer St. (1718), and the Rogers-Brown-Rust House, 83 County Rd. (1665-1723).
All of the framing is boxed, which probably occurred when John Baker conducted a major aesthetic renovation to provide the interior of the house with fine Georgian features.
The left downstairs room has a recently boxed-in transverse summer beam, usually found on the second floor, or in the halls of single story houses. It would be simple to remove the boards to examine the beam for signs of a chamfer, or to conduct dendrochronology. Abbot Lowell Cummings noted that the distribution of transverse summer beams before 1725 occurred primarily in the area extending from Marblehead through Salem to Topsfield and Ipswich, and is rarely found in First Period houses in other areas.
Fireplaces and Chimney
The massive central chimney is typical of First Period and early 2nd Period houses. By the late Georgian era and in the Federal era it was more common to have two chimneys set in about a couple of feet from the two ends of the house. Cummings wrote that arched brick chimney vaults were invented in the last quarter of the 17th Century, and they are found throughout the 18th Century. The 1680 Ambrose Gale house in Marblehead has an arched brick chimney base. The 1776 Heard-Lakeman house at 2 Turkey Shore Rd. has an unusually large arched chimney base.
The massive kitchen hearth at the rear of the house faced a rear addition shown in an old painting of the South Green. The bricks appear to be of the earlier style. In 1679 the Court at Massachusetts Bay decreed that “the size of bricks be nine inches long, two and one quarter inches thicke, and four and a halfe inches broad.” Today the standard size is 8″ x 2 1/4″ x 3 1/2″.
The bake oven is inside the hearth. Edward P. Friedland, author of “Antique Houses, Their Construction and Restoration” wrote “Bake ovens of the earliest fireplaces appear in the rear wall of the firebox, a location that eventually shifted in the first quarter of the eighteenth century to the more convenient location at the side of the fireplace.” The book, “Something to Preserve” notes that in the 1720 Smith House on Argilla Road, “The large kitchen fireplace is located in the keeping room area in the rear, and smaller fireplaces are in the front areas.”
The First Period Phillip Call house on High Street also has a rectangular and very similar fireplace which previous owner Paul McGinley believed was added in 1725. Large brick hearths are found as early as the 1669 Joseph Wilcomb house, and continued to be used until adoption of the Rumford fireplace in the early 19th century.
The inside of the house has much original material, including Georgian paneling. Fireplace paneling in the two front rooms have wooden doors that cover bake ovens. The kitchen fireplace is in a newer room where an addition was originally added, and has the earlier design of bake ovens inside a massive hearth.
“Eared” moldings around the fireplace and in the door frames of the Baker House are noted around fireplaces in the Heard-Lakeman house on Turkey Shore Rd. and its neighbor the 1730 Burnham-Patch house. Cornice moldings at the Heard-Lakeman house and the Col. Baker house are also very similar.
In June 1636 Nathaniel Rogers sailed with his wife and family for New England, and was ordained pastor of Ipswich, Massachusetts, on 20 Feb. 1638, succeeding Nathaniel Ward as co-pastor with John Norton. He took the oath of freedom at Ipswich, and was one of a body deputed to reconcile a difference between the legalists and the antinomians. He died at Ipswich on 3 July 1655, aged 57.
August Caldwell in the Antiquarian Papers published in 1881 wrote, “The first Rev. Nath’l Rogers, 1638, built a house where the residence of the late David Baker now stands. A pail of that early Rogers house was incorporated into the house built by Thomas Baker, — the residence for many years of Mrs Mary Ann Choate. A silver cup with the initials N. R. was dug up in laying the foundation of the David Baker house.”
The will of the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, Pastor of the Church at Ipswich, taken from his own mouth, July 3, Anno Domini 1655, was proved in court at Ipswich, 25-7-1655. He reckons his estate in Old and New England at about twelve hundred pounds, four hundred pounds of which ‘is expected from my father Mr. Robert Crane in England. He makes the portion of John, though his eldest son, equal only with the others, viz. Nathaniel, Samuel and Timothy, and gives to each one hundred pounds out of his estate in Old England and one hundred pounds out of his estate in New England. To his son Ezekiel he gives twenty pounds, which he may take in books if he pleases. To his daughter he has already given two hundred pounds. To his three grandchildren, John, Nathaniel and Margaret Hubbard, he gives forty shillings each. To his cousin, John Rogers, five pounds, in the hands of Ensign Howlett. To Elizabeth, Nathaniel, John and Mary, children of his cousin John Harris, of Rowley, he gives twenty shillings each. To Harvard College, five pounds. The remainder he leaves to his wife Margaret, whom he appoints executrix.
John Rogers 1
Although he was never ordained as a minister or trained as a physician, John Rogers ((January 11, 1630—July 12, 1684), the eldest son of minister Nathaniel Rogers, lived in Ipswich most of his life practicing medicine and assisting in the ministry of his brother-in-law William Hubbard, who served as Ipswich pastor for 50 years. He appears to have been the successor owner of the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers estate. John Rogers was appointed President of Harvard in 1682 but died two years later at the age of 54. After the death of President Rogers, his widow came back to Ipswich to live. She was a daughter of Gen. Daniel Denison, and lies buried near him at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich. The inscription on the tombstone of President John Rogers in Cambridge reads:
“To this mound of earth is committed a treasury of benevolence, a storehouse of theologic learning, a library of the choicest literature, a living system of medicine, an embodiment of integrity, a repository of faith, a pattern of Christian sympathy, a garner of all virtues, in other words: the mortal remains of the Very Reverend John Rogers, son of the Very Learned Nathaniel Rogers of Ipswich in New England, grandson of Mr. Rogers of Dedham in Old England, whose name is illustrious throughout the world. He was a favorite and deservedly admired President of Harvard College. His immortal part was borne away from us July the 20th, A. D. 1684. His very dust is dear. ‘Tis all we have.”
John Rogers (2)
Salem Deeds (book 10, page 90) filed in 1694 is an indenture providing division of the estate of John Rogers between Samuel, Sarah, and John Rogers (2). The Rogers mansion went into the possession of Rev. John Rogers (1666 – December 28, 1745, age 79), son of the President, and likewise Pastor of the Church. He began his ministry as colleague with Mr. Hubbard in 1686 in his twentieth year, but was not ordained for several years. At the age of nineteen, Martha, daughter of William Whittingham and Mary Lawrence in Boston, married Rev. John Rogers on Mar. 4, 1690, in Ipswich. Martha survived her husband by 14 years, passing away at the age of 88 years, in Ipswich on Mar. 9, 1759.
The two Rev. John Rogers successively continued ownership of the property of Nathaniel Rogers, and a finer house was apparently built on that location by one of them during the late 17th or early 18th Century. When the South Church was built in 1746, the location was stated to be at the South Green “between the homestead of Mr. Jonathan Wade and the homestead of ye late Rev. John Rogers.” Mr. Rogers died of palsy in 1745 in his 80th year, after serving the church as its minister for 56 years. (*ref: Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Vol. II).
John Rogers (2) conveyed to his son Samuel, “all y’ part of my homestead or old orchard lying before the land that was Mr. Francis Crompton’s, from the South corner of sd Crompton’s land, by a strait line to ye street or highway, about one half acre, with all buildings, trees etc.,” May 6, 1734 (95: 181).
The Will of John Rogers (died 1745)
- John Rogers gave to “my dear wife Martha Rogers all my personal effects…all my household goods and furniture….one half of my house, gardens, orchards and privileges…for the rest of her natural life.”
- To his son Nathaniel he gave “half of my dwelling house, out houses….”
- To his son John he gave “all of my land between Thomas Manning on the North, and (unreadable) Smith on the South, having the river on the west and the highway on the east.”
- To his son Richard he gave the “easterly part of my orchard aside Crompton’s land.”
Dr. Samuel Rogers
Dr. Samuel Rogers succeeded in the office of Register and continued in office the rest of his life, from August 26, 1762 to Dec. 21, 1772. He was the son of Rev. John Rogers and grandson of President John of Harvard. A Harvard graduate of 1725, he served the Town and Colony in many positions of honor and usefulness, as physician, Town clerk. Colonel of a regiment. Justice of the Court of Sessions and Representative to the General Court. His home was originally opposite the home of his grandfather at the intersection of South Main, County and Poplar Streets, but was moved further down County Rd. to accomodate construction of the South Congregational Church. That house still stands at 83 County Rd.
Daniel Rogers, son and heir of Rev. John Rogers (2): Daniel Rogers was born at Ipswich Mass July 28 1707. He graduated at Harvard College, 1725, and was for many years one of the tutors of the college. In August 1748 he was ordained pastor over a newly gathered Church at Exeter in New Hampshire and in the same year married ) Anna Foxcroft, daughter of Rev Thomas Foxcroft of Boston. He continued his ministry in Exeter until his death on 10 December 1785.
The heirs of John Rogers transferred their rights to the property to Daniel Rogers on Oct. 19, 1748 (Salem Deeds book 84, page 272) Daniel Rogers sold the Rogers homestead with land and “a certain messauge” to John Baker in 1762 (110:94).
Col. John Baker’s date of birth is given as Feb. 2, 1721. Me married Eunice Pope on Nov. 4, 1745. Date of death was June 9, 1785. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote,
“The whole western portion of the original Argilla farm seems thus to have come into the possession of John Baker. Colonel Baker died Aug. 1, 1734, aged forty-four, and left the farm to his son John. The latter became a man of large influence and great public usefulness. He was Town Clerk for many years, one of the Committee of Correspondence and Inspection during the Revolution, Colonel of a regiment, feoffee of the Grammar School, and Justice of the Sessions Court, and not least of all, father of twelve children. His town residence was the substantial dwelling on the Heard property, facing the South Green. He took an active part in the leadership of the town, speaking out against the British Parliament in steps that led the Town into the Revolutionary War.”
The extended Baker family owned this side of the South Green. Aaron Smith, who built the house to the right of the Baker house married Lucy Baker. Her nephew David bought and tore down the old Compton Choate Inn that was located on the present site of the Whipple House. Behind the Col. John Baker house is the Gables, a fascinating Gothic Revival home designed by mathematician David Baker and built between 1832 and 1846.
- Thomas Franklin Waters’ map of original land grants at the South Green, showing that the John Baker lot was granted to Nathaniel Rogers.
The Col. John Baker house is on the left side, looking in the direction of downtown in this old painting of the South Green
Col. John Baker House South Village Green Preservation Agreement
This house has a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission.
This house is protected by a preservation agreement between the owners and the Ipswich Historical Commission. Protected elements include:
- Exterior front facade and two end gables of the original building
- Central frame including primary and secondary members
- Central chimney
- Wooden architectural elements in the front hall, front first and second floor rooms of the original building, including mantelpieces, doors, paneling, and other molded detail.
Shown below are two of the fireplaces in the house:
Sources and further reading:
- T.F. Waters, Ipswich in the Mass. Bay Colony, vol. I, p. 465
- “A Walking Tour and Brief History of Early Ipswich Massachusetts“ produced by the Ipswich Visitors Center, Marjorie Robie and William Varrell.
- Salem Deeds (110:94), sale by Daniel Rogers to John Baker
- Last will and testament of John Rogers, 1684 (Son of Rev. Nathaniel Rogers) 1630-1684. Transfer deed for this house dated March 4, 1684)
- 107 Argilla Road (Argilla Farm): John Baker
- Geni: Martha Rogers
- Descendants of John Rogers
- Congregational Library: Rogers Papers
- Antiquarian Papers
- Quitclaim deed by Asa and Nathaniel Baker to Thomas Baker (online at Salem Deeds, book 166; page 54)
- Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society Vol XXII: Along Some Old Roads: The Old Argilla Roads, by Thomas Franklin Waters