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

Streets and Neighborhoods

The English settlers of Ipswich built their homes in a half-mile radius of the Meeting House. In the year 1639, the General Court instructed that “all highways shall be laid out where most convenient not withstanding any man’s propriety or any common ground.” Much of the village retains its historic buildings, roads, bridges and settlement pattern. 

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

William Jeffreys’ Neck

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 William Jeffreys’ Neck

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 Reservoirs

Featured image: Dow-Bull Brook Trail, from the Essex County Trail Association site Harold Bowen wrote that two downtown fires in 1894 accomplished something that numerous Town Meetings had failed to agree upon. For several years the town had tried to provide a municipal water system, without success. "The farmers up in Linebrook fought it. It … Continue reading Dow Brook and Bull Brook Reservoirs

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