The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.” 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. 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 them.
Scheduled, group & family tours
Tours are available by family or group request, and are also scheduled a few times a year through open signup.
- One hour tours: the charge for scheduled tours is $10 per person, minimum $60 for a requested one-hour group or family tour. View tour choices below.
- Two hour tours: the charge for scheduled tours is $15 per person, minimum $100 for a requested two-hour group or family tour. View tour choices below.
TO RESERVE: Email Ipswich town historian Gordon Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or call / text (978) 979-6598. Please indicate which of the tours below you are requesting, and a way to contact you,
Walking tours from Meeting House Green
One-hour tour: Meeting house Green and N. Main St. Distance is 1/2 mile, and includes N. Main St. (The most historic and leisurely tour)
Two-hour tour: This tour begins at Meeting House Green. Distance is about 1.2 miles, and visits Meeting House Green and the East End (N. Main, East, Summer, Water, and County Streets. (Includes First Period houses and the River)
Start location: These two tours start at the garden across from the Ipswich Public Library on Meeting House Green. View at Google Maps.
Walking tours from the Ipswich Visitor Center
Two-hour tour: This comprehensive Historic Ipswich tour touches on the South Green, and follows the River to Water, Summer, County East Streets, Meeting House Green, North Main and South Main Streets, with a total distance of 1.5 miles. This tour takes a full two hours, and is for participants who can walk at a faster pace.
Start location: In front of the Ipswich Visitor Center at 36 South Main St. View location.
One-hour tour: High Street in Ipswich has the greatest concentration of First Period houses in America, dating from the late 17th Century into the first couple of decades of the 18th Century. This tour is a little over 1/2 mile. Your guide describes the architectural features of First Period, Georgian and Fedearl houses, and what makes them different. (We don’t go inside the houses, which are all privately owned.)
One hour tour: The Old North Burying Ground has some of the oldest tombstones in New England dating back to the late 17th Century, and are thought of as American folk art. This leisurely walk in the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich includes up to a hundred tombstones carved between 1673 and the late 1700s. Town historian Gordon Harris shares the stories of the interred, and where their houses still stand. Carvings vary from the death heads of William Mumford, to the Essex/Merrimac style of John Hartshorne and the Leighton family, to the elaborate tombstones carved by the Park family. We visit the tombstones of the town’s earliest and most influential families, as well as other individual or family tombstones by request.
This tour is conducted in the late afternoon when the position of the sun in the fall casts shadows that make the inscriptions easier to read. Group size for each tour will be limited to about a dozen people, repeated during the fall.
Time: 3:00 pm. Duration: 1 hr.
Charge: $10 / person, which you can pay by cash or check when we meet. Please preregister by emailing email@example.com.
Start Location: Front gate at the Ipswich Old North Burying Ground at 63 High St. Limited parking is available on High St. Additional parking may be available at the Payne School at Lord Square.
Reserve a tour
To request group or family tours, Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call / text (978) 979-6598. Please indicate which tour you are requesting, the number in your group and provide your email address.
Tours by individual signup are occasionally scheduled through this site,and through Lexington Community Education and Essex National Heritage. Prices vary, and signup is through the sponsoring organizations. View the calendar below.
Custom ancestry and architectural tours by request
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. 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. Custom tours were recently provided for descendants of Isaac Cummings, William Fellows, Reginald Foster, William Story, Richard Kimball, and John and Judith Perkins.
To reserve: Email Ipswich town historian Gordon Harris at email@example.com or call / text (978) 979-6598. Please indicate your ancestry or architectural interest, and a way to contact you,
- View a comprehensive 4-mile Historic Ipswich tour online or follow on your cell phone
- Download a comprehensive 4-mile tour of historic Ipswich as a PDF document
Some scenes from the tours: