Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

300 years on Grape Island

Grape Island is a part of Ipswich that was once a small but thriving community, and briefly a popular summer resort. In 1941, 3000 acres of Plum Island including Grape Island were purchased by the U.S. government to establish the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Lewis Kilborn, the island’s last resident, was allowed to continue living in the family home, where he died in 1984.

Caldwell house, Ipswich MA

Sarah Dillingham Caldwell

Sarah Dillingham Caldwell was born in 1634, the daughter of John and Sarah (Caly) Dillingham. Her father died less than a year after she was born, and her mother two years later. At nineteen years of age she married John Caldwell. The years entrusted them with eight children, countless descendants, and their home on High Street still stands.

The Pillow Lace Tercentenary plaque on High Street in Ipswich

Ipswich Pillow lace

In the late eighteenth century, Ipswich had 600 women and girls producing more than 40,000 yards of lace annually. In the 1820’s Ipswich industrialists opened a factory and imported machines from England to mechanize and speed up the operation, which destroyed the hand-made lace industry.

Daniel Hovey's house on Tansey Lane

Daniel Hovey

At the foot of Hovey Street along the Ipswich River is a plaque dedicated to the memory of Ipswich settler Daniel Hovey, whose home and wharf were across the river on what is now Tansey Lane.

The Agawam House in Ipswich

The Treadwell Inns

In 1737, Captain Nathaniel Treadwell opened an inn in the house still standing at 12 N. Main St. Nathaniel Treadwell of the next generation built the second Treadwell’s Inn at 26 N. Main St. For over one hundred years it was the town’s first-class hotel. Guests at the two inns included John Adams, President Monroe, Daniel Webster and the Marquis de LaFayette.