Just past the Choate Bridge on South Main Street The Ipswich Visitor Center is located in the Hall – Haskell House, sometimes called the “Little Red House.” Earlier structures stood at this site before mariner Charles Hall and his wife bought the property in 1819. In 1820 they built this house, where they lived upstairs and ran a general store on the lower floor. After his death in 1825 the house was sold to the widow Eunice Smith Caldwell Haskell. Eventually the property was acquired by wealthy businessman John Heard, whose descendants continued to own the house into the 20th century.
In the 1980’s the house was in bad condition and came close to being demolished by the town. In 1987 the town received a matching grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to help restore the structure. It was saved due to the efforts of Vivian Endicott, Paul McGinley, Paula bishop, Stephanie Gaskins, Don Curiale and the Essex Heritage Commission.
Don Curiale wrote, “I remain proud of our Ipswich Center, our enduring spirit of volunteerism, and other local citizens who raised funds and restored the house. After many fund-raisers and work on the house it was opened as an art space and later became home to the Ipswich Visitor Center. A bench dedicated to Vivian Endicott is in the garden behind the house.”
In 1991, members of the advanced woodworking class at Ipswich High School raised the beam that supports the ceiling of the Ipswich Arts side of the Hall Haskell House. The Little Red House on South Main Street now serves as the Ipswich Visitor Center, open in the summer months as an art gallery and also housing the Essex Heritage Trail Visitor Center.