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.

Glen Magna Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem - Article by Helen Breen Before the advent of the modern transportation, affluent city dwellers often built their summer residences within a few miles of home. Such was the case when shipping magnate Joseph Peabody (1757-1844), “the richest man in Salem,” chose Glen Magna in Danvers as his county seat during the War of 1812. Over … Continue reading Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem
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
Riverbend, the Barnard estate (Marguery Restaurant), 1915 - For several decades, only the parking lot remained, visible from County Rd…. The George E. Barnard estate of Ipswich was originally a small four room farmhouse owned by Anthony Potter. It passed through several hands, with each owner adding more to the building. In 1899 it was renovated by George Edward Barnard, a manufacturer of fine shoes … Continue reading Riverbend, the Barnard estate (Marguery Restaurant), 1915
Nancy Astor, Hamilton MA 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
44 Mill Road, Holiday Hill, The William and Violet Thayer house (1897) - Information and photos provided by David Thayer.  “My grandparents, William And Violet Thayer viewing a solar eclipse, in Ipswich, ca. 1934. The second man from the right is William G. Thayer. The woman on the left is Violet. Next to her is her sister, Daisy Otis Smith. The man on the far right, is Uncle … Continue reading 44 Mill Road, Holiday Hill, The William and Violet Thayer house (1897)
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 “Sunswyck,” or … Continue reading 65 Waldingfield Road, Sunswick (1890)
Goodue Rice Winthrop house Topsfield Rd. Ipswich MA 208 Topsfield Road, the Joseph and Judah Goodhue house (1767) - The house at 208 Topsfield Rd. on the Winthrop property in Ipswich was built in 1767. The rear section was added in 1810, and the 1834 Ipswich map shows the owner as Aaron Goodhue. 1810 addition. In 1872 the owner was W. Goodhue. Rice and Winthrop Anne Proctor married Charles G. Rice in October 1890. … Continue reading 208 Topsfield Road, the Joseph and Judah Goodhue house (1767)
Fairview house, County Rd., Ipswich MA 5 Hemlock Drive: Fairview, the Charles Campbell estate (1900) - 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 … Continue reading 5 Hemlock Drive: Fairview, the Charles Campbell estate (1900)
Lamson house, Bradley Palmer State Park William Lampson -Bradley Palmer estate - When Roger Preston arrived in Ipswich he first purchased a lot along the river across from what is now the intersection of Turkey Shore and Labor in Vain Roads. The earliest town records show the lot belonging to William Lamson, who died Feb. 1, 1658. In Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Thomas Franklin Waters notes: “William Lampson … Continue reading William Lampson -Bradley Palmer estate
Hellenic Center, Ipswich MA 117 County Road, the Hellenic Center (1904) - The land on the west side of the Old Bay Road (County Road) in Ipswich was originally divided into six acre lots reaching from the road to the river, which were allotted to the original settlers. Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, Pastor of the Ipswich Church, owned two of these six acre lots which were inherited by … Continue reading 117 County Road, the Hellenic Center (1904)
54 South Main St., the Heard House (Ipswich Museum, 1795) - The Heard house on South Main Street is a Federal-style structure built in 1795 by wealthy John Heard. Before the Revolutionary War he had invested in the rum factory on Turkey Shore Road along the river bank where they unloaded barrels of West Indies molasses, and he later helped start the Ipswich Mills. His son Augustine Heard … Continue reading 54 South Main St., the Heard House (Ipswich Museum, 1795)
Argilla Farm 107 Argilla Road, Argilla Farm (1785) - The Ipswich Historical Commission “Partial List of Historic Houses” prepared by Susan Nelson dates the house at 107 Argilla Rd. between 1734 and 1785 with later alterations. However, Thomas Franklin Waters wrote the following for the Ipswich Historical Society in December 4, 1899: “Allen Baker built the substantial hip-roofed farm house nearby early in the present (19th) … Continue reading 107 Argilla Road, Argilla Farm (1785)
Appleton Farms and Waldingfield Road - Featured above is the Appleton Farms “Old House” which is now the visitor center. Many generations of the Appleton family lived in the “Old House” at Appleton Farms. Samuel Appleton was an original settler, and his brother Isaac built the first section of the Old House in 1688. Samuel Appleton of the fifth generation of the family … Continue reading Appleton Farms and Waldingfield Road