83 High Street, the Isaac Lord house (before 1784)

83 High Street, the Isaac Lord house (before 1784)

Local legend is that the building at 83 High Street was once the town jail on Meeting House Green, and was moved to High Street and converted into the house we see today. However, in 1973 Margaret Welden documented the house for the Ipswich Historical Commission but was unable to find information identifying this house as the jail. There appears to be no evidence that Isaac Lord purchased and moved the Old Jail, which was constructed in 1771 on Meeting House Green, when it was removed in 1808. Structural evidence suggests that this is a much older building.

The identity of this house is uncertain. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that Isaac Lord purchased the ancient Richard Kimball house on this lot in 1784. In 1805 his neighbor on the north, Elizabeth Lord, sold him part of her land, adjoining. Waters does not indicate the date or nature of construction of this house:

Richard Kimball received a house lot in 1637 which John Kimball conveyed to Richard Kimball (2) in 1696 (12: 114). Richard Kimball also owned the adjoining lot in his will, probated Dec. 25, 1752, which he bequeathed to his son Richard and daughter Elizabeth, who married Philip Lord. Richard Kimball sold the original Kimball house with a half-acre to Isaac Lord, felt-maker, Feb. 26, 1784 (142: 213). and Elizabeth Lord sold him a small piece of the adjoining lot, Dec. 5. 1805 (180: 219). Isaac bequeathed his proper to his nephew Joseph. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that the original Richard Kimball house stood on the site of the Thomas H. Lord house (still standing) and was occupied by his widow, when it had fallen into a very ruinous condition.

83 High Street, Ipswich MA

Photo of the first floor of 83 High Street, from the Coldwell Banker site. The base of the fireplaces and the chimney is stone from the basement to the first floor.

The building appears to be quite old. Existing original details include a boxed 10″ summer beam and exposed boxed braces. The gable wall in the each chamber reveals corner braces that were papered over, typical of First Period plank houses (1625-1725). Unusual casement type “L” hinges are used on a feather-edge door. Vertical sheathing in at least one room has a very wide feather edge, found primarily in First Period houses. Narrow beaded vertical sheathing is in the first floor front hall. The earliest (front) part of the house is asymmetrical, with a 14′ wide parlor on the left front side, but only 8’6″ wide on the right. The chimney sits on a massive stone foundation, typical of first period construction. Floor boards in the attic are extremely wide.

Isaac Lord, son of Nathaniel Lord and Elizabeth Day, was born July 29, 1753 in Ipswich. He married Susanna July 27, 1776. Their children were Isaac, born 1777; Joseph, born 1778; Nathaniel, born 1780; Levi, born 1784. Isaac Lord died September 06, 1828 in Ipswich, and Sussanna died April 06, 1841 in Ipswich. The home has been in the extended Lord family since 1771. It was acquired by Rupert Kilgour and his wife Marion Lord in 1973, apparently from Viola Lord, and was placed on the market in 2017.

The Ipswich Town Historian visited this house in the spring of 2018. Preliminary observations suggest that it has several features that indicate that parts of the house were built in the First Period (before 1720). Further examination will occur as the house is renovated by the new owners:

  • Steep roof
  • Narrow original building depth
  • Off-center doorway predates Georgian construction, with a larger parlor on one side
  • massive stone fireplace foundation with bricks beginning at the floor level
  • Foundation near the ground level, no granite facing
  • Possible plank wall construction with corner bracing
  • Exposed beams throughout the oldest section, and a summer or carrying beam that is currently boxed in
  • Uncertain deed records before 1800
  • Resemblance in construction to the the 1700 Perkins-Hodgkins house in Ipswich, and the original layout of the 17th Century John Alden house in Duxbury, with the exception of the location of the chimney.


Ipswich has 59 First Period houses. Only about 300 are left standing. The floor plan of the original Isaac Lord house is typical of a “hall and parlor” layout found in 17th Century North America The form entails a rectangular, timber-frame two-room configuration two rooms wide and one deep with a steeply pitched side-gabled roof and a central chimney. The windows were asymmetrically placed. The depth of early hall and parlor houses varied from about 16 to 20 feet deep and up to 40 feet wide. A saltbox addition was usually added or part of the original construction. The Isaac Lord house is 17′ x 30′. The larger hall was the living room, and the smaller parlor served as a private room commonly used for sleeping.


83 High Street, 1978 photo by the Ipswich Historical Commission on the MACRIS site.

Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about the houses on the east side of High Street at this location, but the exact reference to this house is unclear:

85 High Street, the Phillip and Elizabeth Lord house: “Richard Kimball received a house lot, adjoining Goodman Simons in the original apportionment, and it was recorded in 1637. He may have been the original owner of the two lots, which John conveyed to Richard Kimball in 1696 (12: 114). Certainly Richard Kimball owned the lot next in order, and in his will, probated Dec. 25, 1752, he bequeathed his real estate to his son Richard and daughter Elizabeth, both minors (331:107). Elizabeth married Philip Lord, and, after his death, she sold one eighth of an acre and part of her house to John Kimball Jr Dec. 25 1806, (186: 147); the same that John Lane Jr. sold to Benjamm Fewkes March 21, 1832 ( 264:87). This house, now owned and occupied by Mr. Nathaniel Burnham, was probably built by Phillip Lord.”

83 High Street (this house): “Richard Kimball sold the original Kimball house with a half-acre to Isaac Lord, felt-maker, Feb. 26, 1784 (142: 213). and Elizabeth Lord sold him a small piece. Dec. 5. 1805 (180: 219). Isaac bequeathed his property to his nephew Joseph, whose heirs own the house now standing, but the original house stood on the site of Mr. Thomas H. Lord’s, and was occupied by his widow, when it had fallen into a very ruinous condition.”

79 High Street, the Thomas H. Lord house: “Alexander Knight owned the house lot east of Kimball’s, and after him John Gamage, was in possession. Richard Kimball bought a third of the lot. on the east side, and sold it to his son Richard Feb. 9, 1715-16 (28: 205) ; but Richard 2nd sold it back to John Gamage, may 9, 1721. ) William Gamage, executor of the will of his uncle, John, sold the house and barn and one and one half acres to Jacob Perkins Oct. 26, 1753 (104:92). Jacob Perkins sold to Deacon Nathaniel Kimball of the South Church February 17, 1757 (103: 235). It continued in the same family, and was set off to Jonathan, in 1820 (Pro. Rec. 396: 145-148). Deacon John Kimball occupied the house for many years. The architecture denotes age, and it was probably built a century and a half ago. (The Ipswich Historical Commission estimates the date of construction approximately 1814-1835).”

73 High Street, the Nathaniel Lord house (C 1720): Allen Perley, the original grantee, sold his house and land to Walter Roper, Sept. 3, 1652 (Ips. Deeds 2: 44). John Roper succeeded, then Benjamin Dutch. Dutch sold the northwest half of the homestead, two acres in all, lately of John Roper, to John Brown, 4th, Feb. 3, 1737 (77: 33), and the northeast half to Nathaniel Lord, June 16, 1741 (84: 202). Lydia Thornton, widow, sold half an old house, bequeathed her by her former husband, Mr. John Brown, to Nathaniel Lord, hatter, Jan. 23, 1796


Map by Thomas Franklin Waters of original land grants on High Street


This closeup from the 1832 Ipswich map indicates the house at 83 High Street, owned by Isaac Lord Jr. at that time. The Widow Joseph Lord house, no longer standing, has been tentatively identified by a photograph.


The Isaac Lord house is in the center of this photo taken from the hill above by George Dexter, circa 1900.


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