The Ipswich Historical Commission  acts to preserve, protect, and develop the historical and archaeological assets of the Town. The Commission consists of seven members appointed by the Town Manager with the approval of the Selectmen for staggered three-year terms.  Powers and responsibilities are prescribed in the town Administrative Manual and in accordance with Section 8D of Chapter 40 of the General Laws of Massachusetts.

The mission of the Ipswich Historical Commission is to support the preservation of historical properties, advise property owners, and implement the town’s Demolition Delay Bylaw when necessary. Historical structures deemed “at-risk” are subject to a one year demolition delay.

The mandate and work of the Historical Commission includes:

  • Meet monthly and advise the Selectmen on policies and legislation concerning the preservation, protection and development of historical or archaeological assets in the Town
  • Keep accurate records of its meetings and actions and file an annual report which shall be printed in the annual town report.
  • Survey and compile a listing of all historical sites and buildings within the Town.
  • Report to the state archaeologist and/or the State Historical Commission the existence of any archaeological, paleontological or historical site or object discovered.
  • Assist the Town in preservation of historic documents.
  • Make recommendations that places be certified as an historical or archaeological landmark.
  • Recommend that the Town acquire property of significant historical value, and may manage the same.
  • Hold hearings furthering the objectives of the Commission’s program.
  • Promote the awareness and preservation of historical buildings and places in the town through publications and a website.
  • Arrange historical preservation agreements (“covenants”) with individuals, organizations, and institutions.
  • Act as the agent for the Selectmen in the oversight of town buildings with covenants.
  • Determine the requirements for repair, reconstruction, and protection of historical landmarks.
  • Administer and enforce provisions of “The Demolition Delay By-Law.”
  • Receive administrative support through the Planning and Development Department, the Building Inspector and Town Manager.
  • Interact with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Public Works Department, the Conservation Commission, and the Board of Health when those boards are considering properties of historical or archaeological value.
  • Issue historic plaques for homeowners and conduct research necessary to authenticate the dates.
  • Make the annual Mary P. Conley Award for preservation of historic buildings.
  • Approval by the local historical commission is one step in the application process for the Massachusetts Historic RehabilitationTax Credit Program

Background of the Ipswich Historical Commission

The Ipswich Historical Commission (IHC) was established on March 2,1964 to aid the Ipswich Historical Society and the Town in discouraging the demolition or inappropriate renovation of historically significant homes. IHC’s aegis stems from the Historic Districts Act, Chapter 40C of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (MLG), whereby a town may elect to establish an historic district administered by a commission “to promote the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the public through the preservation and protection of the distinctive characteristics of buildings and places significant in the history of the commonwealth and its cities and towns or their architecture, and through the maintenance and improvement of settings for such buildings and places and the encouragement of design compatible therewith.”

For the purpose of protecting and preserving such significant places, the Commission may make recommendations to the Selectmen, and subject to the approval of this Board, to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, that any such place be certified as an historical or archeological landmark. It also must report to the state archeologist the existence of any archeological, paleontological or historical site or object discovered. 

Ipswich MA Town Hall on Green Street Ipswich Historical Commission members over the years - Ipswich Historical Commission Members 1964 – present 1964 George Mathey, Chairman, Barbara A. Emberley, Chester A. Patch, Jr., Alice E. Keenan, Katherine S. Thompson and Charles E. Goodhue, Jr. 1965 George R. Mathey, Chairman, Barbara A. Emberley, Chester A. Patch, Jr., Alice E. Keenan, Katherine S. Thompson, John Markos and Hollie Bucklin 1966 George R. Mathey, Chairman, Barbara A. … Continue reading Ipswich Historical Commission members over the years
Mary Conley Award - Featured image: the Matthew Perkins house on East St. Every year since 1991, the Ipswich Historical Commission has presented the Mary P. Conley Preservation Award, named in honor of Mary for her endless dedication to preserving historical sites. The award may be given to the owners of an Ipswich property, which is deemed noteworthy for a recent … Continue reading Mary Conley Award
Preservation agreements - Featured: Owners of the Phillip Call house on High Street were the first to establish a preservation agreement with the Town of Ipswich. Since 1969 the Ipswich Historical Commission has been responsible for a voluntary program of binding Preservation Agreements between the Commission and homeowners to preserve the structure’s architecturally significant features. Under the voluntary … Continue reading Preservation agreements
Building Permits for Historic Structures - The Ipswich building inspectors office may require applicants for repairs, renovation, or demolition permits to present their plans at an Ipswich Historical Commission meeting.  Included are buildings 75 yrs. or older, buildings in the Historic District, and buildings listed on any historic register: Buildings 75 yrs. or older: A  property owner requesting a demolition permit from the … Continue reading Building Permits for Historic Structures
Historic Demolition Delay - CHAPTER XVI of Town of Ipswich Bylaws: Procedure for delaying the demolition of historically or architecturally significant buildings (Approved at the April 6, 1987 Annual Town Meeting)  Intent and Purpose  The purpose of this section is the preserving and protecting of significant buildings within the Town which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, … Continue reading Historic Demolition Delay