Hidden in the woods near the corner of County Rd. and Lakeman’s Lane is a beautiful “Tudor Revival” house, built in 1900 for Charles A Campbell. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about the early history of the property in Volume II, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:
“On the east side of the Bay Road, the great tract of pasture, tillage land, meadow and swamp, bounded by the Bay Road, Essex Road, the Candlewood Road, Fellows Lane and Lakeman’s Lane was a part of the Common land of the Town, and when the great area of Common lands was divided into Eighths in 1709, it became part of the division known as the South Eighth, and was known as The Inner Common of the South Eighth. About 1720, the proprietors of the Inner Common apportioned individual shares, division lines were run and individual titles were then established.
The twenty acre lot now included in the estate of the late Charles A. Campbell, on the comer of Lakeman’s Lane, was allotted to Thomas Manning. Mr. Campbell acquired adjoining lots and erected his picturesque dwelling on its sightly knoll in 1900. The beautiful prospect which is commanded by the windows well suggested the name, ‘Fairview’.”
The subsequent history of the estate was written by Don Staruk in the Ipswich Chronicle, July 20, 1989, portions of which are copied below:
“The Charles A. Campbell estate on County Road was rumored to have been a speakeasy during the Roaring Twenties, and a was source for novelist John Updike in the Sixties.Campbell, a coal and wood dealer, assembled several pieces of property to create the 38-acre estate on which he built the home. In 1923, Percy E. Bennett from Boston, a dealer in women’s hats, bought the home and 20 acres of land from Charles Campbell’s son. The purchase price was $23,000, according to Stanley Bennett, Percy’s son. “That included a workhorse, a cow and a calf, and farm machinery,” Bennett says.
The house was rented in 1924 to Herman H. Fierkas and Floyd Garringer, who opened up the Fairview Inn, which remained open until about 1931. This seven year span is a little vague, but rumors are that a speakeasy operated there during that time. The Whittier School for Girls from Merrimac rented the big house in 1932, and in 1934 the name changed to the Ipswich School for Girls, under Principal Laura K. Pettingell. The school moved to Beverly Farms in 1936 where it continued for a couple of years before closing due to hard times.
Percy Bennett sold the big house and four acres of land to Frank Swain in about 1938. Swain’s son Howland took the estate over after his father’s death and sold it to Dr. John Palotta, around 1947. Benjamin O. Gardner bought the big house in 1951 and lived there with his wife Elizabeth M. Gardner until 1955. Elizabeth continued to live there at least until 1962. The house fell into disrepair while McManaway had it. Broken window glass let rain water in on the third floor, which eventually destroyed some of the ceilings. McManaway sold the estate to John Carter of New York on speculation in April, 1988. Carter made the necessary repairs and sold it to Francois and Nathalie de Brantes of Hamilton in 1989. The staircase, which is about 8 feet wide, is an original feature of the house, and the building is much the same as in 1900. The trees around the house are a collection from around the world “.
Thanks to Charlotte Lindgren for sharing the 1989 Chronicle article with me. She added her own memories:
“I saved this 1989 clipping from the Ipswich Chronicle because this house represented all the glamor of the outside world when I was growing up. In the early years there were no houses on Lakeman’s Lane until you came to our farm, and the southern border of this estate ran the whole length of the other side of the lane. When Mr. Fierkas came to Ipswich it was just six years after the end of World War 1. He was German and spoke with an accept, so the townspeople were a little wary of him. I do not know whether he served illegal liquor, but there was always a little mystery to the place, which was the nearest thing to a nightclub Ipswich ever had. During the depression, farmers were always looking for ways to make money, and my father was hired on holidays and special Saturday nights to work there. Mr. Fierkas liked children, and he always sent home for me the party favors and noisemakers after the balls. I loved them.
When the Whittier School, later called the Ipswich School for Girls, rented the place, it still seemed glamorous, for many of the girls had horses and would ride them down Lakeman’s Lane. I knew a few of the local girls, who would always speak to us, but now seemed worlds apart. Of course, I took pride in the school’s name of Whittier since that was my Mother’s family.
By that time, Mr. Bennett had built houses along the Lane and sold off lots. His son Stanley had moved into the converted stables. His wife Betty ran a dancing school for the town locals. It was there that I was pushed around the dance floor by boys like Taffy Hill and Richard Ford while we learned to waltz ane even do the more controversial fox trot. We were dressed in our finest clothes, but dancing was more of a chore to us than a pleasure at that age.
Forgive my walk down Memory Lane, but this article brought back so many things that I have not thought of in years.”