The High Street Historical District in Ipswich was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. High Street was once the main residential and commercial street of the new community and several of the 17th, 18th and 19th Century houses still remaining once served as taverns, stores, or craftsman’s shops. High Street was part of the Old Bay Road with an overnight stagecoach stop in Ipswich was established by 1761. Central Street was built in 1871 and much of the High Street traffic was redirected.
The High Street District extends east and west along the side of Town Hill, from the intersection with North Main Street on the east to the viaduct over the B § M Railroad, tracks on the west. The district includes the 1634 Burial Ground and intersects the East End and Meeting House Green historic districts. Lord’s Square is not included in the district, having lost its historic character.
High Street, with Lord’s Square at the end
High Street from the top of North Main Street
The following information is from the description of the High Street Historic District on the MACRIS site:
High Street dates back to the founding of Ipswich in 1633. It was the main residential and commercial street of the new community. The predominant character of the street is now residential, but several of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Century houses along High Street earlier served as taverns, stores, or craftsman’s shops. One of the most important was the inn. Ipswich was on the road to Boston and a constant stream of travel passed through the town. This was augmented by the Supreme, Superior, and Probate Courts which held their sessions in Ipswich, and by political conventions. A regular stagecoach with an overnight stop in Ipswich was established by 1761. Eight to twelve stages were passing through town daily by 1828. Ipswich inns flourished for many years.
Download a PDF with complete description of the High Street Historic District.
Two popular ordinarys were located on High Street, The White Horse Inn and the Perkins Inn. Both were in business by the mid-17th Century, and both were infamous among the townspeople for many riotous evenings. During the 18th Century, cabinetmaker and carpenter shops lined High Street. Industry shifted to textiles in the 19th Century, and this main boulevard was the site of two important enterprises. Between 1827 and 1832, the New England Lace Company operated out of Dr. John Manning’s House, since removed. Hosiery manufacture, once the main industry in Ipswich, had its beginnings in Benjamin Fewkes’ small shop. He worked on two stocking frames built by the Peatsfield Brothers in 1832, the first frames made in the United States. Central Street was built in 1871, and much of the High Street traffic was redirected. At this time, the street began to acquire its purely residential character and it remains so today. The High Street District extends east and west along the side of Town Hill, from the intersection with North Main Street on the east to the viaduct over the B § M Railroad, tracks on the west. The district includes the 1634 Burial round that extends up Town Hill near the middle of the area, but excludes Lord’s Square, a group of modern commercial structures on the south side of the street, just west of the cemetery.
The High Street National Register Historic District boundaries define the area of earlier settlement and later growth. Two other districts, the East End and Meeting House Green, define the eastern border of High St. Running west the boundary lines follow back lots of both the north and south sides of the street. Lord’s Square has been omitted from the district as it no longer conforms to the character of the area. The boundary lines continue west to the High St. bridge, which is a distinct boundary, for beyond it were pastures during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the structures in this area today played no part in High St. development.
Thomas Franklin Waters wrote in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony that in past times High Street was also called Hill Street, Great Street, Broad Street, Long Street, Bay Road, and The King’s Highway. The section beyond the Old North Burial Ground was “the West End,” a tradition long forgotten, but going in the other direction High Street abruptly changes its name to East Street, and that neighborhood is still known as “the East End .”
A 1910 view of High Street looking north from Mineral Street. Asa Lord’s Store and Burnham’s Grocery in the middle of the photo at Lords Square are gone, but most of the other houses in this photo are still standing.
First Period houses on High Street
This colorized photo from the late 1800’s was taken from the intersection with North Main Street. The John Gaines house is on the right. Elm trees graced High Street and there were no electrical lines.
High Street in 1859, looking toward North Main Street.
The old straw-roofed Baker house that once stood on High Street
A small rise in High Street was removed in the 19th Century. This photo is taken looking toward North Main Street. On the Right front is the Caldwell house. On the left front is the Lord-Baker house.
High Street looking in the opposite direction, with Lord’s Square at the end
High Street from the top of North Main Street
Burnham’s Store on High Street at Lord Square
The corner of Manning and High Street. The houses on the left and in the center no longer stand.
High Street before the bridge was built, with Town Farm Road on the right.
The High Street railroad crossing before the bridge was built
High St. bridge, newly constructed
Memorial Day parade on High Street just above Lord Square
The Legend of Puddin’ Street
For the 250th celebration of the founding of Ipswich, the Rev. Knowles wrote a poem which noted the unusual names of Ipswich streets. There is a very old legend about some mischievous boys who stole a bag pudding and kicked it down the road, lending High Street its most colorful nickname, “Puddin’ Street.”
We turn our eyes below and at our feet
Lies in peace old Pudding Street
So named because a pudding hard and dry
Was stolen by some tipsy passers by
These later years from vulgar names have shrunk
And called it High because the thieves were drunk
Another version of the story is memorialized in a poem written by Henry Bowen long ago:
I can remember very well
A tale the old folks used to tell
Of how a street well known to fame
Received its somewhat curious name
The oven then so long ago
Was built outside the house and so
While the good wife was getting dinner
There came along a tramping sinner
Who having not the fear of man
Opened the oven door and ran
The pudding had so much of heat
He quickly dropped it in the street
And fearing in that place to stay
Kicked it before him on his way
The pudding bag so stout at first
By violence at last was burst
And ever since that wicked feat
The thoroughfare is Pudding Street
High Street continues north through a neighborhood beyond the Clam Box known as Ipswich Village, until it reaches Rowley. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote in 1915, “At the very beginning of the Town, High Street was the road to Newbury or ‘the pathway leading toward the River of Merrimac.’ No section of our Town has more substantial and picturesque interest than this quiet neighborhood.” Image: Ipswich Village, from the 1832 Philander map of Ipswich. Continue reading…
Houses in the High Street Historic District
112 High Street, Timothy Ross house, 1840 - When the Eastern Railroad was built in 1840, Timothy Ross was building a new house at this location. When the High Street bridge was constructed in the early 20th Century, the road curved in order to preserve the row of houses on the original High Street. 93 High Street, the John Cole Jewett house (1813) - John Cole Jewett bought the High Street estate of Josiah Martin by 1767, when he was mentioned in a deed of an abutter. Jewett's heirs sold the property in 1813 to David Lord. Stylistic evidence indicates that the present house was built shortly before the 1813 transfer. 79 High Street, the Thomas H. Lord house (1835) - The ancient Joseph Lord house was at the approximate location of the present Thomas H. Lord house, which was owned at the beginning of the 20th Century by descendants of Joseph Lord. This house appears to have been built between 1814 and 1835. 43 High Street, the Fitts- Manning-Tyler house (1767) - This house is believed to have been built in 1767 at today’s 42 North Main Street. Sophia Tyler bought a lot on High St. in 1873 and removed the Fitts house to the property. Located between the Daniel and Jonathan Lummus houses, the three properties are on land that was originally granted to Thomas Dudley, governor of Massachusetts for four years, and Ann Bradstreet, America’s first poet. 87 High Street, the Sewall Jewett house (1830) - Jewett in 1830, which is the year in which the house is believed to have been built. He was the son of Moses Jewett and Abigail Pearson, who lived next door at 89 High St. At one time, this side of High Street was lined with homes owned by members of the Jewett Family. 108 High St., the Dow-Harris house (1735) - This dwelling began as a half house, two rooms in depth, and was constructed about 1735 for Margaret Dow and her second husband John Lull. The entry room retains its original interior casings. Additions date to the 19th Century. 24 High Street, the J.W. Gould House (b 1850) - This house was built on a part of the original estate Nathaniel Lord estate. The earliest known owner is a Caldwell, but it was in the possession of the Gould family by 1872. The house was renovated extensively in 2014. 84 High Street, the John Smith house (c 1830) - This house first appears on the 1832 map of Ipswich, in the possession of John Smith. In 1958 the house was purchased by Wilbur Trask, Many of his photos are featured on this site. 6 High Street, the Joseph Ross house (1884) - This Victorian home was built by Joseph Ross, who designed the country's first movable span bridge, which he patented in 1849 at the age of 26. His horizontally folding drawbridge became the most common railroad bridge type in the Boston area. 30 High Street, the Joseph Bolles house (1722) - Joseph Bolles, a carpenter bought this lot from Joseph Fowler with an acre of land and a house on it in 1722, which is the assumed date of this structure. This house began as a central chimney house, one room deep. Rooms were later added to the rear, and the roof rebuilt to cover the doubled house. The original oak frame is now thoroughly concealed, and second and third period trim dominate the house. 66 High Street, the John Harris-Mark Jewett house (1795) - This house was built in 1795 by John Harris. In 1784 John Heard convinced the town that if it would buy John Harris' previous home at the corner of High and Manning, he would provide $400 annually for the care of the poor. 68 High Street, the Wood – Lord house (c 1740) - After her husband Daniel disappeared in 1727 at Penobscot Bay after being attacked by Indians, the court allowed Martha Ringe to marry John Wood before the customary three years had passed "in order to advance her circumstances." It was owned by Nathaniel Lord and his heirs in the 19th Century. 82 High Street, the John Brewer house (1680) - John Brewer came to Ipswich with his father Thomas Brewer who is shown living in Ipswich in 1639. Town records show that in 1662 the town constables were ordered to pay John Brewer 20 schillings, charges he was due “about constructing the fort”. John Brewer Sr. died on June 23, 1684. 88-90 High Street, the Shatswell-Tuttle house (right side by 1690 / left,1806) - The oldest section of the Tuttle – Lord – Shatswell house was built before 1690 for Deacon John Shatswell, who joined the Ipswich settlement in 1633 with his wife and four children. It remained in the family and was the home of Col. Nathaniel Shatswell, famous for his command of Union troops during the Battle of Harris Farm during the Civil War. 110 High Street, the John Kimball Jr. house (1730) - John Kimball Sr. acquired this land in 1708. Kimball's son, John Jr. built the house and a barn. The eastern half is older, and its timbers were originally exposed. The driveway is the original High Street before the bridge was constructed in 1906. 95 High Street, the Simon and Hannah Adams house (1700) - Simon Adams, a weaver and veteran of King Philip's War, owned this property in 1707, according to a deed of the adjoining property. (20:15). This "half-house" was originally extended as a leanto over the rear rooms. In 1906 the front door and old sash were changed and around 1919 the east ell was added. 73 High Street, the Nathaniel Lord house (C 1720) - This house is named after Nathaniel Lord who spent 36 years as the Register of Probate in the Ipswich Court. The western half of this house predates the eastern side and may have 17th Century elements. 40 High Street, the William Caldwell House (1733) - William Caldwell built this house after purchasing the lot in 1733, The house remained in the Caldwell family into the 20th Century. Key features of the house include a large kitchen fireplace and exceptional period trim. 9 High Street, the Samuel Newman house (1762) - Joseph Newman built the house at 9 High Street in 1762. It was later owned by Samuel Newman. The present form of this house is composed of at least 3 structures, and the attic tells the story. It started out as a colonial home with a center chimney and center entrance. 21 High Street, the Haskell – Lord house (c 1750) - This fine house was built circa 1750 by Mark Haskell, an Ipswich cabinet-maker. Haskell served as a Light House Volunteer during the Revolutionary War. Daniel Lord married Eunice, the daughter of Mark Haskell, and Haskell conveyed to him the house and an acre of land in 1767, which is the first registered deed. 34 High Street, the White Horse Inn (1659 / 1763) - John Andrews, innkeeper sold this lot with a house in 1659. The First Period structure was greatly altered and expanded after its purchase by Jeremiah Lord in 1763, and took its present appearance around 1800. It stayed in the Lord family into the 20th Century. 106 High St. the Caleb Kimball house (1715) - Caleb Kimball (1) was born in 1639 in Ipswich, the son of Richard Kimball and Ursula Scott. The owner has maintained the left inside as a First Period home, with exposed beams and a large fireplace. The right inside was updated with Georgian features, plaster ceilings and a Rumford fireplace.
52 High Street, the Henry Kingsbury – Robert Lord house (1660) - Henry Kingsbury, the earliest known owner of this lot, is first mentioned in Ipswich Records of 1638. The oldest elements of the present house date to 1660, the year Henry Kingsbury sold a house and lot to Robert Lord. Key features of this house include a hidden room and 10 fireplaces. 45 High Street, the John Lummus house (1712) - Jonathan Lummus, who served in King Philip’s War in 1675 was appointed a tithing man by the town in 1700. Lummus bought Captain Symon Stacy’s land and dwelling on High Street in 1712. This parcel had originally been granted to Thomas Dudley, Governor of Massachusetts. The house underwent a careful restoration by Phillip Ross in 1964. 100 High Street, the Joseph Fowler house (1720 – 1756) - Joseph Fowler, a carpenter bought the lot in 1720. Records indicate that a house may have existed before Fowler obtained it. The house has a 1-1/2 story, gambrel roof with a central chimney and exposed “gunstock” posts. 17 High Street, the Thomas Lord house (1658) - In 1634 this lot was granted to Robert Lord, one of the settlers of Ipswich, and was deeded to Thomas Lord, a cordwainer who built the early section of this house in 1658. The oak frame encloses a two-room over-two-room house. The saltbox leanto is not integral, indicating that it was added later. 37 High Street, Lord – Baker House (1720) - The house is believed to have been built by Robert Lord III in 1720. The property continued in the Lord family until 1775, when Samuel Baker, felt-maker and hatter, purchased it. This early 2nd period house is protected by a preservation agreement between the owners and the Ipswich Historical Commission. 13 High Street, the Joseph Willcomb house (1669) - The earliest section of this house was built by John Edwards, a tailor, who acquired the property in 1668. He was one of several Tithingmen appointed by the Selectmen “to inspect disorderly persons. Joseph Willcomb bought the house prior to 1762. 3 High Street, the John Gaines house (1725) - The John Gaines house at 3 High St. is a 1725 building remodeled in 1806 with Federal trim. The Gaines family in Ipswich are famous for the chairs they produced. The home also served for over one hundred years as the Episcopal rectory.This house has a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission. 12 High Street, the William Russell House (1890) - This is a Queen Anne period house built in 1890, relatively unusual in Ipswich. The sitting room contains a fireplace decorated with sea serpents. According to local tradition, this house had the first inside bathroom in Ipswich. 1 High Street, the Nathaniel Rogers Old Manse (1727) - The house was constructed for the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers in 1727 by Ipswich cabinet-maker, Capt. Abraham Knowlton. In the early 1900's the building was known as "ye Olde Burnham Inn". This house is protected by a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission. 26 High Street, the Philip Call house (1659) - This 2-story timber-frame First Period house was built by cordwainer Philip Call about 1659, enlarged around 1725. In 1967, the owners uncovered a chamfered 17th century summer beam and field paneling behind Victorian-era walls. The house has a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission. 104 High Street, the John Kimball house (1715) - This is is one of three John Kimball houses along High Street, two said to have been built by the father, the third by the son. The 1st period house has a chamfered summer beam and wide plank tongue and groove sheathing. This house is protected by a preservation agreement between the owners and the Ipswich Historical Commission. 115 High Street, the Baker – Sutton house (1725) - The widow of Daniel Bosworth, a cowherd sold the lot with a dwelling in 1702 to William Baker, who built the present dwelling. The pilastered chimney and elaborate doorframe were added later. 39 – 41 High Street, the Daniel Lummus house (1686) - This house has elements dating to 1686 but was significantly rebuilt in 1746. Jonathan Lummus bequeathed to his son Daniel "a small piece of land out of my homestead adjoining to his homestead to make a convenient way to his barn." in 1728. 77 High Street, the John Kimball house (1680) - Richard Kimball owned this lot in 1637. The property passed to John Kimball, and the present house dates from the time of his ownership. It belonged to the Lord family through the 19th century.
103 High Street, the William Merchant house (1670) - The building dates to approximately 1670, but the right half may contain timbers from a previous structure on this site which was built in 1639. That simple story and a half cottage is believed to have been built by William Merchant who arrived in Ipswich with John Winthrop and the first settlers. The section on the left was added in 1672.