Many of the mansions of the North Shore are reminders of the “Gilded Age” of the late 19th and early 20th Century, a time of concentrated wealth as well as deep poverty. During this period of unprecedented economic and industrial expansion, approximately 10 million European immigrants came to the United States to find work. The Gilded Age saw its end with the Panic of 1893, a growing labor movement, and the Great Depression. Many of the great estates and mansions of the North Shore were donated to non-profit organizations or the state, while others were torn down to lower property taxes.
Four communities in Massachusetts, including Ipswich have a Great Estates Bylaw to encourage appropriate development and preservation of large estate properties, providing an alternative to demolition. The following stories are about large estates and grand houses in the Ipswich area.
The Amazing Life of Nancy Astor - If you look at an online map you will often see a reference to “Nancy’s Corner” at the intersection of Highland Street and Cutler Road in Hamilton. I started researching who this Nancy was and discovered an amazing story. Nancy Witcher Langhorne was the daughter of a Virginian slaveholder whose family fell into poverty after the … Continue reading The Amazing Life of Nancy Astor
65 Waldingfield Road, Sunswick (1890) - In 1882, Bayard Tuckerman married Annie Osgood Smith, daughter of Rev. Cotton Smith and Hariette Appleton, daughter of General James Appleton. A lot on Waldingfield Rd. near Highland Street that had once belonging to Daniel Fuller Appleton was purchased in 1890 by Tuckerman. He built his summer house on a slight rise and named it ““Sunswick." 117 County Road, the Hellenic Center (1904) - Mrs. Anna P. Peabody purchased thiis property in 1903-4 and transformed the bare pastures into a beautiful estate which named Floriana. For many years it has served as the Hellenic Center for the town's Greek population. 54 South Main Street, the Ipswich Museum (1795) - This Federal-style structure was built in 1795 by John Heard, who became wealtthy as a privateer during the American Revolution. The house was purchased by the Ipswich Historical Society from the Heard family in 1939. 107 Argilla Road, Argilla Farm (1785) - In 1637, John Winthrop Jr. conveyed his farm to Samuel Symonds, who became Deputy-Governor of the Colony. It came into possession of Thomas Baker, who married one of Symonds' daughters. Allen Baker built the hip-roofed farm house in 1785. It was purchased by Ephraim Brown and inherited by his son Thomas. Appleton Farms - Isaac Appleton built the original Appleton Farms "Old House" in 1688. The Trustees of Reservations assumed responsibility for the farm in 1998, and the renovated house is now a visitor center, telling the story of the family’s history from settlers to farmers to "gentleman farmers" over the course of 371 years.