Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Roads to Paradise, Ipswich MA

Roads to Paradise

Paradise Road follows a shallow peninsula bordered by Muddy Brook and the Egypt River. In 1807, the ancient path was laid out by the Town as a road from Pingrey’s Plain near the Clam Box, which served as the hanging grounds, to the Muddy River Bridge and the Egypt River. Thomas Franklin Waters […]

The last cottage on Plum Island

(This article was written by Beverly Perna before the cottage was torn down, and has been updated.) An iconic Ipswich landmark, the last privately owned cottage on the Ipswich end of Plum Island, was turned over to the Fish and Wildlife Service  and was taken down in 2016. Boaters and […]

John Dolan Ipswich MA

Remembering John Dolan

The following article was written in 2013 by Beverly Perna for the Ipswich Chronicle.  Reprinted with permission. It is true—when you become “of an age,” you start to scan the obituaries. Sadly with each passing year, I see more familiar names. If I didn’t know them, I knew of them. I looked […]

The Muster Murder of 1787

During the Boston Muster of 1787, Daniel Foster of Rowley participated in the customary celebration of shooting musket balls into the air, and accidentally killed Amos Chapman of Ipswich. A jury ordered his execution, but Governor John Hancock opposed capital punishment and pardoned Foster.

Taffty Hill

Remembering Taffy Hill

by Beverly Perna Ipswich lost a great friend recently with the death of Howard “Taffy” Hill. Memories poured forth as residents learned he had passed away at the age of 87 on March 26, 2011. Hill was a familiar sight at his near iconic store on Market Street, in […]

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

The Greek Hotel

The J. J. Goodhue home at the corner of Market Street and Saltonstall Streets is visible in the 1872 Ipswich village map, and in the 1884 village map, but the 1910 village map identifies it as the Greek Hotel, which operated a coffee shop on its main floor. In […]

Colonial and Colonial Revival houses

streetsofsalem Over the years I have encountered people who were opposed to historic districts for a variety of reasons, prominently property rights and the sense that such building restrictions created homogeneous “museum neighborhoods”. I appreciate both arguments: I’m a bit of a libertarian myself and I have lived […]

Carted back to Ipswich, 1714

In the Old North Burying Yard on High Street in Ipswich lies the body of the Reverend Samuel Belcher. Born in Ipswich in 1639, he graduated from Harvard College in 1659, and studied for the ministry, and was preaching at Kittery, Maine as early as 1663. In 1668 he married Mary, daughter […]

The Ipswich Lower North Green, photo by George Dexter

George Dexter’s Ipswich

Perhaps the best-known early Ipswich Photographer was George Dexter (1862-1927). His photographs along with those of Edward Lee Darling (1874-1962) provide a wonderful visual history of the town. Thanks to Ipswich native Robert Cronin for sharing with me his collection of George Dexter glass plate negatives that have been […]

View of Ipswich Town Hill in the Winter from the hill

Ipswich after a snowstorm, circa 1900

  This photo was taken by Ipswich photographer George Dexter in the late 19th or early 20th Century from Town Hill above High Street, in the vicinity of Highland Cemetery. The First Church and Methodist Church steeples are in the background. Snow-covered Heartbreak Hill rises in the distance. Copies of […]

Jeffreys Neck Ipswich ma map and aerial view

Jeffreys’ Neck Road

This history of Jeffreys Neck is from the Agawam Manual and Directory by M.V.B. Perley, published in 1888. The business of fur-trading and fishing along the New England coast received a new impetus about the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1604 Agawam was the center of Arcadia, so-called in the […]

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. […]

Ipswich in the Great Depression

The severe winter of 1933-34, in which below-zero temperatures lasted for weeks, added great misery to the lives of the homeless during the Great Depression. As part of the New Deal, President Roosevelt signed a forced draft work relief program known as the Civil Works Administration, putting millions to work on […]

Homes of the Wades

Jonathan Wade arrived in Ipswich in 1635 with the first wave of Puritan settlers. He came into ownership of land along the South Green originally granted to the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, and left an estate valued at £783. In the 19th Century, the Wade family of housewrights built several homes on for […]