The Glazier – Sweet House at 12 Water Street in Ipswich is a First Period Half-House built in 1728 by Benjamin Glazier, a sea captain. Like many colonial homes in Ipswich it has a “Beverly jog” on the left side. The Ipswich River is directly across from the house. The interior features many period-style furnishings. View MACRIS

The photo below is of the house in 1900.

The Glazier-Sweet house circa 1900.

John Fiske writes “I love the fact that our house is fast approaching its 300th birthday and that the lives of many local families are now silently embedded in it. It is more than a human habitation, it’s a sign of human continuity.” Read his entire article about living in an historic home.

The photo below is of the house around 1900. Since that time windows were added to the side facing Summer Street and the chimney was moved to the opposite side of the house. The Glazier-Sweet house is the third building from the right in the old photograph of Water Street below. The buildings on the right of the picture are where the Ipswich Yacht club is now.

Watercolor of the Glazier-Sweet house by Arthur Wesley Dow, who lived across the river.
1891 watercolor by Arthur Wesley Dow of the Ipswich River and the cart path that is now Water Street. The Glazier-Sweet house is in the foreground.

This story is by John Fiske, a member of the Ipswich Historical Commission and co-owner of Fiske and Freeman Fine Antiques on South Main Street in Ipswich.

John Fiske’s house about the time they bought it

On the front of our house is a plaque by the town’s Historical Commission identifying it as the Glazier-Sweet House, 1725. Benjamin Glazier bought the lot from Nathaniel Clarke in about 1720 and erected his, now our, “half-house” a year or two later. Half-houses had two rooms, one up, one down, and often a third room in a lean-to running along the back. The front door and chimney were at one end.

Half-houses were starter homes – the idea was that the owner would soon be able to add the “missing” half on the other side of the door, thus making the traditional seventeenth-century, central chimney house. Poor Benjamin never did this, and our house remained a modest half-house for a century and a half. In the late nineteenth century it received an addition, known locally as a “Beverly Jog,” and then in the twentieth century it was extended again into the comfortable, 2,500 sq ft house that it now is.

John’s house with the new door, 2011

The “improvers” who had enlarged it had been more concerned with making it modern and comfortable than with historical authenticity. Hence, the ugly front door it had when we moved in.

We turned to Sid to make us a new one. Sid is a Vermonter with sap in his veins; if it’s wood, Sid’s the man. But what should the door look like?

When Benjamin built the house, the seventeenth-century planked door was just giving way to the new fangled (and expensive) Georgian paneled door. But Benjamin was no trend-setter: he had neither the money nor, we believe, the attitude. We’re as sure as we can be that he had an old-fashioned planked door made of local white oak. So that’s what we wanted from Sid.

But because the door opened into our front room, we needed it insulated against the New England winter. So Sid designed a two-faced, plank door with high-tech insulation sandwiched in the middle. We’re delighted with the result, and if Benjamin is looking down at us, he’ll be green with jealousy: we have the door he would have built if he could.

But at least he’d agree that the house looks more like it did when he built it – now, he just wants us to change the color to something closer to his.