Grape Island 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.
Situated in the epicenter of The Great Marsh, Ipswich is ground zero for the annual invasion of Town’s Official Pest, Tabanus nigrovittatus, better known as the Greenhead Fly. In my opinion, which I am happy to share with you, the Latin name for this scourge lends it far more dignity than it deserves.
Google Maps used to show “Nancy’s Corner” at the intersection of Highland Street and Cutler Road in Hamilton. I wondered who Nancy was and discovered an amazing story.
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.
“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.”
“Ipswich is paradise with bugs.”
Historic photos of the Ipswich River from original glass negatives taken by early Ipswich photographers Arthur Wesley Dow, George Dexter and Edward L. Darling.
In 1963 this house was slated for destruction, but through the efforts of local preservationists was relocated to the Smithsonian where it resides as the Museum’s largest artifact on permanent display.
Bull Brook originates in Willowdale, crosses Linebrook Rd. and merges with Dow Brook at the Ipswich Utilities site on Rt. 1A. From that point the combined stream becomes the Egypt River.
In the early 20th Century, Samuel Goodhue operated a canoe rental business on the Ipswich River at the end of Peatfield St in the area known as Pole Alley.
“The history of Newburyport, and of her mother Newbury, much of which has become incorporated with herself, is replete with striking facts and marvels. “
By the early 1840s, Essex no longer had its own fishing fleet, but had turned to year-round shipbuilding fostering a symbiotic relationship with the successful fishermen in Gloucester
The 35-mile Ipswich River flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Ipswich Bay. The Ipswich River Water Association works to protect the river and its watershed. Foote Brothers Canoes on Topsfield Rd provides rentals and shuttle service from April to October.
in the early 1950’s, a group of young amateur archeologists men discovered one of the largest Paleo-Indian sites in North America along the banks of Bull Brook and the Egypt River in Ipswich, with over 6,000 artifacts uncovered.
Ipswich established its first poorhouse in 1717, and until then the poor and incapacitated were simply let out to the lowest bidder. In 1817 the town voted to build a town poor farm on what is now Town Farm Road.
The “Great Dune” at the end of Castle Neck has disappeared, the point is retreating, and the opening to Essex Bay between Castle Neck and Wingaersheek Beach has widened.
Mounted securely to a stone post at the corner of Middle and Independent Streets in Newburyport, there was for many years a large cast-iron bombshell, thrown from a mortar at the Second Siege of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1758.
Until 350 years ago, the Ipswich River ran unencumbered from its origin 35 miles upstream, carving its way through a 148-square-mile watershed. Herring, shad, salmon and alewife swam upstream to spawn. Thomas Franklin Waters noted that, “Great shoals of alewives came up the river in the Spring and […]
The Strand Opera House was built in 1909 on Market Street in Ipswich and hosted operas, plays, travelling shows and even the Boston Symphony. In 1930 the Strand burned and re-opened as a movie theater.I n November, 1985 the Strand Theater was demolished. In it’s place was constructed the First National Bank of Ipswich.
In 2008 the Ipswich Chronicle ran a series of articles called “The Townie Test”. Readers responded with their answers.
John S. Glover opened a wharf on Water St. in 1847, receiving shipments of coal and cement, along with maritime salvage. His wharf was a short distance from the home be built on East St. around 1872 across from the present-day Town Wharf.
Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. The grass was stacked on staddles to raise it above the high tides, and was hauled away on sleds over the frozen marsh in mid-winter.
Panoramic maps depicting cities and towns were popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Also known as bird’s-eye views, the drawings were created as if viewed from the air. Click on the 1893 map of Ipswich, and keep clicking to zoom in and find your house!
Dogtown is a five square mile area of Gloucester and Rockport strewn with glacial boulders. Visitors to Dogtown find cellar holes of abandoned houses, and boulders emblazoned with inspirational messages.
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, […]
The hotel at Ipswich Bluff on the southern tip of Plum Island was a favorite destination of locals in the late 19th Century, who took the steamer Carlotta from the Ipswich wharf with Capt. Nat Burnham.
The Knobbs is a small beach in a stretch of salt marsh on the west side of the Ipswich section of Plum Island. On the Atlantic side was the Kbobbs Beach Life-Saving Station, replaced in 1947 by a camp for children who had been victims of polio.
The Fox Creek Canal provided the missing link between the forests of New Hampshire and the shipyards of Essex. Lumber boats would sail down the Merrimack to Newburyport, cruise south along the landward-side of Plum Island and reach the Ipswich River without ever having to go on the ocean, then take the canal to the Castle Neck River to Essex Bay.
The locality became very unsightly and in 1906, the land and buildings were laid out the lot as an attractive park and garden, maintained by the subscriptions of the proprietors.
Symonds Epes bought a large tract in 1726 and built a substantial farm and orchards at Wigwam Hill, named for a group of destitute Indians who briefly camped there. The protecting pitch pines were later cut for lumber, and the farm became a large dune.
After Dorothy demanded that the State conduct an investigation, the “Report on Insanity and Idiocy in Massachusetts” found that 68 insane or demented persons were being housed in the Ipswich jail.
The gilded weathercock at the First Church in Ipswich has graced the steeple of every church at that location since the middle of the 18th Century.
In 1829, Dr. Thomas Manning of Ipswich constructed a 6′ tall dam and mill on the Ipswich River along Topsfield Rd. Workers were provided housing a the large stone house. In 1884 the mill building burned and much of the stone walls for the mill building collapsed.
Known in Colonial times as Mile Brook, the Miles River is a major tributary of the Ipswich River but has been diminished in volume by upstream use as a water supply. Evidence of the old Potter and Appleton mills can still be found near County Rd.
In 1843, the Hamilton meetinghouse was turned 90 degrees to face the Bay Road, and the present bell was installed in the belfry. In 1888 a clock manufactured by E. Howard & Company of Boston was added to accompany the bell.
In 1844, John Sawyer sold to Josiah Caldwell an undeveloped tract known as “Knowlton’s Close.” Caldwell sold the land in house lots, where houses constructed in the popular vernacular Greek Revival style still stand today.
Baseball’s popularity grew quickly after the Civil War, and Bialek Park was once the town’s semi-professional ballpark, In 1912 the town purchased the two private lots that had been the ballpark, constructed a public playground, and removed the fence.
A Chronology of Ipswich Public Works: Telegraph, Telephone, Gas, Water, Electricity, Trash, Sewer, Wind and Solar
The history of public utilities in Ipswich starting in 1847. Downtown fires in 1894 prompted construction of the water and electrical systems. Today the Ipswich Electric Department promotes and utilizes renewable energy sources.
The 1893 Birdseye map shows a serious washout just to the east of the Old North Burying Ground, forming a deep gully. A late 19th Century photo taken by Arthur Wesley Dow shows rocks and soil pushed up against a barn and sheds that once stood below.
The American Society of Civil Engineers cites the Choate Bridge in Ipswich as the oldest documented two-span masonry arch bridge in the U.S., and the oldest extant bridge in Massachusetts.