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

Read the full powers and duties of the Ipswich Historical Commission as dictated by the Ipswich Administrative Manual and Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40 Section 8D.

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.