Pingreys Plain Ipswich map

Pingrey’s Plain, the Gallows Lot

Long before the corner of Mile Lane and High Street became famous for the Clam Box, it was known as Pingrey’s Plain, where the wicked were hung. The story was written by Alice Keenan in Ipswich Yesterday: “Pingrey’s Plain was where the local hangman plied his macabre trade and was set up for the execution in … Continue reading Pingrey’s Plain, the Gallows Lot

Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635

Featured image: Marblehead, by Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1900 A story at Mass Moments In May 1635 the General Court ordered "that there shall be a plantation at Marble Head" and gave the inhabitants the right to do whatever they pleased with the land, even though it was part of Salem. The move was meant to … Continue reading Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635

Cape Ann, Massachusetts Pigeon Cove

Sketches of Cape Ann

From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, September 1875

High Spirits on Town Hill

  Standing 14' high and about 12' wide, the new bronze sculpture by Chris Williams on North Main St. in Ipswich honors the town's creative community. It was conceived and funded by Ipswich resident Richard Silverman as a tribute to his late wife Robin Silverman.    

The Choate Bridge in Ipswich, photo by George Dexter

Battles of the bridges

Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters The stone bridges which span the Ipswich river with their graceful arches are picturesque and interesting, but the readiness with which the Town proceeded to build the latter two stone bridges is in singular contrast with the belligerent opposition to the earliest ones. The … Continue reading Battles of the bridges

The Civil War Monument

Photograph by George Dexter, circa 1900; story by Harold Bowen, "Tales of Old Ipswich," 1975 Each Memorial Day for the last 15 years it has been my job to decorate the different monuments in town early in the morning. This year, I couldn't help but think of the many changes that have taken place at the … Continue reading The Civil War Monument

The Ipswich River

The Ipswich River begins in Burlington, MA and passes through the towns of Wilmington, Reading, North Reading, Peabody, Middleton, Topsfield, Hamilton, and Ipswich, connecting with the Atlantic Ocean at Ipswich Bay. The river has been dammed since Colonial days, providing power for the Ipswich mills. In the days of sailing ships, ocean-going cargo vessels, fishing … Continue reading The Ipswich River

Ipswich Mills Dam video

This video was taken last summer during the Ipswich Mill Dam drawdown, which coincidentally occurred duirng the worst part of the summer drought. The video describes the investigation that was conducted at that time of the dam's structure, and a study of the feasibility of removing the dam. Field work is complete, and a public … Continue reading Ipswich Mills Dam video

The Oceanside Hotel in Gloucester MA

The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann, 1905

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Cape Ann was a popular destination for tourists. Gloucester's grand hotels were the subject of "The Summer Hotel Guide," published in 1905. Images and text are available through Archive.org: "This little book will rejoice in the thought that it has accomplished its mission if in interesting you in … Continue reading The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann, 1905

Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA

The Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting on Asbury St. in Hamilton is listed in the National Register of Historic Districts, and has a collection of historic buildings that were built between 1870 and 1960. The land is owned by the Association, while the houses owned individually by the residents. 12,000 people, most from Boston, attended the first camp … Continue reading Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA

View of Ipswich Bluff

Lithography by Edward Burrill, 1835-1913, from Nature & on Stone, printed by Meisel Brothers,  Boston. Digital image from original print, courtesy of Bill Barton.

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 Great Neck residents were most familiar with … Continue reading The last cottage on Plum Island

Along the Ipswich River

Follow the Ipswich River, starting at the Willowdale Dam and continuing past all four stone arch bridges in Ipswich, then along Water Street to the Town Wharf and out to sea. Many of these photos were digitally developed by the Town Historian from original glass negatives taken by three early Ipswich photographers: Arthur Wesley Dow, the famous Ipswich … Continue reading Along the Ipswich River

The Ipswich Town Farm, 1817-1928

Ipswich established its first poorhouse in 1717, and until then the poor and incapacitated were simply let out to the lowest bidder. There was a growing movement in Massachusetts during the early 19th century for establishing rural working town farms for the poor. Caring for the poor in Ipswich became such an issue that the affluent remote … Continue reading The Ipswich Town Farm, 1817-1928

The missing dunes at Castle Neck

When Google maps first went online, it showed a couple of large dunes at the tip of Crane Beach, one labelled "The Great Dune." It was the tallest of the newer dunes, comparable in size to Wigwam Hill, which is an older well-established dune in the middle of Castle Neck. The Great Dune, alas, is no more. Using Google Earth, … Continue reading The missing dunes at Castle Neck

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 French patent of November 8, 1603. For a … Continue reading Jeffreys’ Neck Road

Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite

Kitty Robertson's book The Orchard includes a sorrowful tale by old Mr. Patch about Mr. Brown and his team of horses who drowned in Ipswich Bay as he dragged a sled loaded with Rockport granite across the frozen surface. Whether itr happened, we may never know, but in searching for more information, I found the fascinating and often tragic story … Continue reading Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite

Dow Brook and Bull Brook

Featured image: Dow-Bull Brook Trail, from the Essex County Trail Association site. Remnants of the old grist mill and saw mill dam on the Egypt River, originally constructed by Nehemiah Jewett, are behind the Ipswich power plant transformer station on High St. Jewett’s Grist mill on the Egypt River Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that Nehemiah Jewett owned … Continue reading Dow Brook and Bull Brook

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

An autumn walk in the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

These photos are from one of my favorite hikes in Mass Audubon's Ipswich River Sanctuary at 87 Perkins Row in Topsfield. Twelve miles of trails weave through an amazing mix of forests, meadows and wetlands, with great views of the Ipswich River from the central drumlin and two eskers that were left by retreating glaciers only 15,000 years ago. View the location at Google … Continue reading An autumn walk in the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Choate Island and Rufus Choate

Featured image: Painting of the Choate homestead by E. Choate Kane, courtesy of Joyce Patton Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island. In the Records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it is recorded that keeping hogs on islands or in fenced enclosures during the planting season was the law from the 1630’s, and each … Continue reading Choate Island and Rufus Choate

Little Neck Nostalgia, by Gavin Keenan

We moved to Ipswich when Ike was President and Elvis crossed over from Gospel to Rock and Roll. My father worked for Grossman’s and got a transfer from the Braintree store to the new one in Ipswich on Washington Street. For a while, he commuted from where we lived in Walpole to his new sales … Continue reading Little Neck Nostalgia, by Gavin Keenan

Abraham Choate House, 16 Elm St. (Now at Smithsonian)

In 1963 Kay Thompson and Helen Lunt, two housewives, recognized that chapters of American history, written within the walls of a simple clapboard house slated for destruction in Ipswich, Massachusetts, were in peril. Through their efforts, the historic house was relocated to the Smithsonian where it still resides as the Museum’s largest single artifact on permanent display. … Continue reading Abraham Choate House, 16 Elm St. (Now at Smithsonian)

The sad story of Alexander Knight

In 1648, Alexander Knight was charged with the death of his chiled whose clothes caught on fire. A jury fined him for carelessness after being warned. The town took mercy and voted to provide him a piece of land "whereas Alexander Knight is altogether destitute, his wife alsoe neare her tyme."

Samuel Goodhue’s pier

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.

Bombshell from Louisbourg

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. It was brought to Newbury by Nathaniel Knapp, who served as a soldier, carpenter and ship-caulker with the … Continue reading Bombshell from Louisbourg

A photographic history of the Ipswich Mills Dam

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 were seined at night by the light of torches … Continue reading A photographic history of the Ipswich Mills Dam

The steamship “Carlotta”

The excursion boat Carlotta was built in 1878 at Rogers Point Boar Yard at the end of Agawam Avenue, and sailed from the Town Wharf to points on the Neck and Plum Island for 35 years. William J. Barton wrote about the Carlotta: “From Brown’s Wharf, the steamer Carlotta, a local steamboat owned by Nathaniel Burnham … Continue reading The steamship “Carlotta”

The Choate Bridge

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. 

Essex shipyards and the age of the Gloucester schooners

Over 4000 wooden vessels were launched from Essex, including many schooners that sailed from nearby Gloucester, once the largest fishing port in the United States. View below, "Legacy: Shipbuilders, Fishermen and the Age of the Gloucester Schooners" (58 minutes).

Joppa Flats, Newburyport

In the late 19th Century, clam shacks proliferated along a stretch of the Merrimack River in Newburyport known as Joppa Flats, providing clams to the Boston area. Photos in this slideshow were provided by Laurie Jarvis Short. Visit her Joppa Flats page on Facebook.

Newburyport and its Neighborhood, 1874, by Harriet Prescott Spofford

Gorton’s becomes the largest fishing business on the Atlantic coast, March 31, 1906

On March 31, 1906, the people of Cape Ann were stunned by the news that Gorton’s would merge with three other Gloucester fish companies. The new company became the largest fishing business on the Atlantic Coast, occupying 15 wharves in Gloucester. Over 1,000 fishermen manned 55 vessels; another 1,000 men and women worked on shore salting, drying, boning, … Continue reading Gorton’s becomes the largest fishing business on the Atlantic coast, March 31, 1906

Glover’s Wharf and the Ipswich coal industry

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, which was demolished recently.  The business was sold to Charles Lovell in 1910. Many of the Glover family … Continue reading Glover’s Wharf and the Ipswich coal industry

Barton Stone, end of an era

Barton Stone and Monuments on Brown Square,  was the oldest business in Ipswich . A.J. Barton & Son Inc. was started in 1889 by August Barton Sr., and continued under his son Augustus Barton Jr., known as "Gus." Gordon Player, Phillip Lepage and Scott Kershaw  each owned the company in later years, and the company expanded … Continue reading Barton Stone, end of an era

Dogtown, its history and legends

Dogtown is an area in central Gloucester of about five square miles, or 3600 acres, stretching from the Riverdale section of the city, north of Route 128, into Rockport, and including the Goose Cove and the Babson Reservoirs. Development is banned in this protected municipal watershed. Dogtown is known for its woods and for its … Continue reading Dogtown, its history and legends

1893 Birdseye map of Ipswich

Click on the map to zoom in and find your house!

The Old South Cemetery

The Old South Cemetery in Ipswich, MA was used from 1756 till 1939, with a few more recent burials. It sits at the southwestern end of the South Green, and has about 1000 interments. A walking trail extends down the slope to the River, continuing downstream to Sallys Pond near the Whipple House. Visit the Old South Cemetery and view … Continue reading The Old South Cemetery

History of Gloucester, MA

The History of the town and city of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts was written by James Pringle in 1892 and is online at Archive.org. FRONT PAGE CHAPTER I, Norsemen and other travelers, page 9 CHAPTER II. Cape Ann Visited by the Chevalier Champlain in 1606, page 14 CHAPTER III. Foundation of the Massachusetts Colony, page … Continue reading History of Gloucester, MA

An old pear tree grows in Danvers…

 A History of the Endecott Pear Tree by Richard B. Trask The 375-year-old Endecott Pear Tree in Danvers was planted under the direction of the first Massachusetts Governor, English Puritan John Endecott (c 1588-1665). Endecott sailed from England to the New World aboard the ship Abigail in 1628, landing at a small peninsula the native inhabitants called Naumkeag. Endecott established a permanent … Continue reading An old pear tree grows in Danvers…

Sally Weatherall Memorial Reservation

The Sally Weatherall Memorial Reservation on Little Neck Road is dedicated to Greenbelt’s first executive director. The property is primarily salt marsh--a trail through a small section of wooded upland leads to a viewing area and an osprey perch. In addition, the pond next to the Whipple House (formerly known as the Bicentennial Pond) was renamed Sally's … Continue reading Sally Weatherall Memorial Reservation