Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Nathaniel Wade house, Ipswich MA

Homes of the Wades

Jonathan Wade arrived in Ipswich in 1635 with the first wave of Puritan settlers, and came into ownership of land across from the South Green. In the 19th Century, the Wade family of housewrights built several homes on County Rd., and throughout the town.

Thomas Lord house, High St., Ipswich MA

Homes of the Lords

Robert Lord, his wife Mary Waite and their four children arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in 1634, where he was appointed town clerk. Almost every house on High Street has been lived in by a member of the Lord family.

John Fiske Mary Conley Award

John Fiske, 1939-2021

We sadly learned of the recent passing of John Fiske, a long-time member of the Ipswich Historical Commission. At our June meeting, the Commission unanimously voted to grant the 2021 Mary Conley Preservation award to our esteemed former chairman for his exceptional service to the Town of Ipswich, and granted him the honorary title of Chair Emeritus.

Belcher carted to Ipswich

Carted back to Ipswich, 1714

It is said that the Rev. Belcher was dependent on his neighbors’ kindness in his later life. Much to the supposed discredit of the parish, the story was often told that when he grew old and unable to preach, his parishioners cast him off and carted him back to Ipswich, his native place.

The Greek Hotel, corner of Market and Saltonstall Streets in Ipswich, photo taken 1913

The Greek Hotel

In 1868, the Ipswich Mills built a “fine mansion” for the use of its superintendent. By 1910 the building had become a tenement upstairs and coffee shop downstairs. The house was replaced by a succession of three diners, but the lot is now a parking lot.

Sally Weatherall

Sally’s Pond on South Main St. is dedicated to the memory of Sally Weatherall, who volunteered many hours to her Town as a member of the Conservation Commission and helped achieve development of the Open Space Plan.

19th Century: Religion divided the town

Revivalist Rev. John N. Maffit held a “protracted meeting” which was undoubtedly the most extraordinary episode in the history of the churches of Ipswich since the days of George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent, preaching sixty nights to congregations which occupied every inch of the meeting-house.

The Legend of Puddin' Street

The Legend of Pudding Street

“We turn our eyes below and at our feet, Lies in peace old Pudding Street, So named because a pudding left to dry Was stolen by some tipsy passers by.
These later years from vulgar names have shrunk, And called it High because the thieves were drunk.”

Cape Ann earthquake

The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755

At between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, the1755 Cape Ann Earthquake remains the largest earthquake in the history of Massachusetts, and caused great alarm. The Rev. Leslie of Linebrook Church recorded the earthquake’s effect: “Between ye hours of four & five in ye morning there happened a most surprising shock of ye earthquake, which was afterwards succeeded by several others, though non equal to ye first in ye Town of Ipswich. Much damage was done to many houses, yet through ye goodness of God no hurt was done either to ye lives or ye limbs of any persons. On Nov. 19 several shocks were heard, tho but small compared to ye first.”

Burgess flight in Ipswich

Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910-11

In 1909, W. Starling Burgess joined with Augustus Moore Herring to form the Herring-Burgess Company, manufacturing aircraft under a license with the Wright Brothers, thus becoming the first licensed aircraft manufacturer in the United States. Burgess took the initial flight of his first plane in 1908 at Chebacco Lake in Hamilton, MA. Flight tests of Burgess biplanes were conducted in November and December, 1910 near Essex Road in Ipswich