The  2014 Fall Town Meeting on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 established an Architectural Preservation District (APD) for the most historic areas of the town.

The bylaw was adopted at Town Meeting under the Home Rule Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution and will be administered by an Architectural Preservation District Commission. The Architectural Preservation District proposal was revised through a series of open meetings of the Historical Commission, and was presented for comments and review through public meetings.. The APD encompasses an area roughly defined as 220 acres beginning at the South Green, continuing along the river to the Town Wharf, East and High Streets to the High Street Bridge, North Main Street and Meeting House Green.

Purpose: The purpose of the bylaw is to preserve and protect groups of buildings and the characteristics of their neighborhood settings that are important to the architectural, cultural, economic, political or social history of the town of Ipswich. The bylaw is also intended to limit the detrimental effect of alterations, additions, demolitions and new construction on the character of such buildings and their neighborhood settings. Through this bylaw, alterations, additions, demolition and new construction may be reviewed for compatibility with the existing buildings, setting and neighborhood character. This bylaw seeks to encourage the protection of the built environment through a combination of binding and non-binding regulatory review.

APD Commission:  The five-member APD Commission will be appointed by the Board of Selectmen and will be primarily consultative and advisory, assisting the owners of homes within the APD with conserving their unique district and its neighborhoods.  The Commission shall include, if possible, one member of the Ipswich Historical Commission; a landscape architect or an architect; a craftsperson or building contractor familiar with historic restoration; a licensed real estate agent; and at least two residents of the APD. Members and alternates of an Architectural Preservation District Commission shall by reason of experience or education have demonstrable knowledge and concern for improvement, conservation and enhancement of the Architectural Preservation District.

The Ipswich Architectural Preservation District was adopted by the 2014 Fall Town meeting.

Members: In 2015, the Ipswich Selectmen appointed the following persons to terms on the Architectural Preservation District Commission (APDC) and they elected officers at the organizational meeting:

  • Christopher Morse, Summer Street, chair of the APD Commission and member of the Historical Commission.
  • Mitchell Lowe, Summer Street, vice-chair of the APD Commission
  • John Fiske, Water Street, chairman of the Historical Commission and member of the APD Commission
  • Peter Bubriski, Summer Street, member of the APD Commission
  • Dwight (Will) Thompson, East Street, secretary for the APD Commission
  • Ruth Strachan, Summer Street, alternate, also an alternate on the Historical Commission.

Design Guidelines

The APDC maintains guidelines for the Commission, owners and builders.

Properties in the Architectural Preservation District

This is a list of streets from the above map and is not an official document.

  • County Street: all
  • County Road: From County Street along the South Green to and including the Nathaniel Wade house at the corner of Ward Street.
  • East Street: All from North Main to Cogswell Street and  not beyond or including the Town Wharf
  • Elm Street: all
  • Green Street: all
  • High Street: from North Main Street to the commuter rail overpass.
  • Hovey Street: all
  • Meeting House Green (North Green): all
  • North Main Street: all
  • South Main Street: All of the east side, and all from the pedestrian bridge to the South Green
  • Scottons Lane: all
  • South Green: all
  • Summer Street: all
  • Turkey Shore Road: from the Green Street bridge to Labor in Vain Road
  • Water Street: all properties on the side of Water Street opposite the river, none on the river side.

Take a virtual tour of the houses and historic neighborhoods in and around the Ipswich Architectural Preservation District.

View a slideshow of all 59 First Period houses in Ipswich. The Ipswich APD includes properties in four neighborhoods listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

APD Powers and Duties: The Commission shall exercise its powers in administering and regulating the new construction and demolition of buildings within the Architectural Preservation District as set forth under the procedures and criteria established in this bylaw. No building within the Architectural Preservation District constructed before 1900 shall be demolished without consent of the APD Commission. No building shall be constructed or substantially altered within the APD (substantial alteration is defined in the bylaw) until it has received a Certificate to Alter from the Commission.

East Street in Historic Ipswich MA
A view of East Street from the top of North Street

The following are excluded from Commission’s review:

  • Repairs, routine maintenance, and projects not requiring a building (or demolition) permit by Building Inspection Department regulations.
  • Temporary buildings subject to time limits and size limits by the Architectural Preservation District Commission.
  • Interior Alterations.
  • Painting and roof material colors.
  • Storm windows and doors, screen windows and doors.
  • Removal or replacement of gutters and downspouts.
  • Removal or replacement of window and door shutters.
  • Removal of substitute siding.
  • Structures not defined as buildings or parts of buildings.
  • Reconstruction, substantially similar in exterior design, of a building, damaged or destroyed by fire, storm or other disaster.

Alterations with a voluntary non-binding review.  In reviewing the application, the Commission may provide advisory recommendations on how the Alteration could be compatible with or follow more closely the Design Guidelines

  • Accessibility improvements including ramps, rails, walkways and mechanical equipment associated with exterior architectural barriers subject to MGL 40A and other applicable state or federal laws.
  • Replacement of windows, doors, architectural trim, and siding in ways that substantially differ from existing materials, design or dimensions.
  • Construction of a new building or addition that does not have a roof or is not fully enclosed by load-bearing walls, including the replacement and extension of a porch or deck.
  • Any other alteration not classified by Code Enforcement regulations as routine maintenance that does not increase building volume.

Alterations Which Require Commission Review: The following Alterations require the submittal of an application for review by the Commission: The decision of the Commission shall be binding on the applicant.

  • Demolition of a building or part of a building on a Contributing Property.
  • Substantial Exterior Alteration to a Contributing Property. (DEFINITIONS, ADDITION, SUBSTANTIAL: Any addition to a principal or accessory contributing building that increases the existing gross floor area by 1,000 square feet or by thirty percent (30%) or more, whichever is less.)
  • New construction of buildings on properties within the APD, including substantial additions fully enclosed by walls and a roof, but not including accessory buildings that are less than 250 square feet in area.

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