Walking tours of historic Ipswich

Historic houses on Water Street in Ipswich MA

Map of walking tour of Ipswich MA

The standard tour (in red) starts from the Public Library and includes Meeting House Green, North Main, County, East and Water Streets. The extended tour (in green) adds the South Green and South Main St. Options include High Street to the Old North Burying Ground.

Guided walking tours are not currently scheduled due to the coronavirus. You are welcome to download and follow the self-guided tours.

The historic neighborhoods of Meeting House Green, High Street, the East End, and the South Green offer well-preserved streetscapes of 17th to 20th century homes. A comprehensive self-guided tour can be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF document.

Guided tours

Walking tours of historic Ipswich are led by Town Historian Gordon Harris, who tells the stories of the town’s historic houses and the people who lived in the them.

  • Location: The regular tour starts in front of the Ipswich Public Library on Meeting House Green. View at Google Maps.
  • Date and Time: Guided tours are not yet scheduled for 2020.
  • Charge: $10 per person. No charge for small children. Group size for each tour will be limited to a dozen people. Advance registrations are recommended, but the tour is open to walk-ins. Please pay by cash or check at the beginning of the tour.

Custom Ancestry Tours

The minimum charge for special group tours or custom tours is $100 for the group. To arrange a custom group tour, email Gordon Harris at historicipswich@gmail.com.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.” Ipswich is the country’s best-preserved Puritan town, and its residents have been the proud custodians of its history. Many people trace their roots back through several generations to Ipswich, one of the earliest towns in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Town Historian Gordon Harris leads customized tours for people wishing to “walk in the footsteps of their forefathers,” in which we visit the neighborhoods, houses and gravestones of early settlers and their descendants. In July 2019 he led tours for descendants of Isaac Cummings, William Fellows, Reginald Foster and Richard Kimball.

Some scenes from the tour:

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11 replies »

  1. I went on a tour with Mr. Harris this July. As one whose family is derived from Ipswich but who had never visited, it was a true privelege to hear Mr. Harris speak with passion and erudition on the history of a town that is now very dear to me. Those with even the faintest interest in history should avail themselves of the opportunity to hear a real authority on Ipswich by scheduling a tour.


  2. Thank you Gordon, for the great tour of Ipswich on Aug. 4th. With Daniel Hovey, the immigrant, being my 9th great-grandfather, and us being the only ones on the tour that day, you were able to spend a little more time on various Hovey homes around town. And yes, I think we did find the original site of Daniel’s house on Tansey Lane. It is a long trip from Arizona, but we will be back, very soon, hw hope. Thank you again for making the history come alive. It was a great day for both of us.


  3. We had a delightful, informative, entertaining walking tour of Ipswich. Gordon had the history, humor and time to do it justice. Great take!


  4. Mr. Harris was kind enough to arrange a private tour for me and my father. We walked for hours through Ipswich — we were given the option to drive but declined — as Mr. Harris gave us an enthralling orientation to Ipswich history. He took us to numerous sites of note to the Fellows family and expounded some of the reasons for their importance. I encourage anyone interested in Ipswich to schedule a tour with Mr. Harris; it is a real treat to hear someone discourse avidly and expertly on a subject about which he is passionate, especially if the fate of one’s family is tied into that subject.


  5. Regarding the Walking Tours – highly recommended! If you want to learn why they built the way they did, Gordon knows his stuff. These people were practical, orderly and committed. They had town rules for building and for respecting the land. To top it off, seeing a home that was built by, or belonged to, your own ancestor is really exciting. I love this town, and I’m so thankful it has been preserved. Thanks to Ipswich and all those who have worked, and continue to work, for this amazing history.


  6. As a descendent of early pioneer Isaac Cummings, it was a special moment to be standing on land he owned as his life in Ipswich was described. Gordon made history come alive for a tour bus of descendents. Thank you Gordon.


  7. My mom’s family has been in Ipswich and Rowley since the Great Migration and we lived there back in the early 70s. I need to head up that way and take this tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is one of the best walking tours I’ve been on. Gordon’s knowledge of the history of Ipswich allowed us to understand the daily life of Ipswich resdents from the time the town was established through the Revolutionary War and beyond. We learned things the history books omit. It is worth your time to take this tour!

    Liked by 1 person

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