Ipswich in the 20th Century

In 1903 the Electric Light System was built as a municipal utility by the Town. A labor strike at Ipswich Hosiery Mills in 1913 resulted in a young Greek woman being killed after out-of-town police were brought in. The Great Depression brought desperately hard times to the people of Ipswich. The Old North Church on Meetinghouse Green was destroyed in 1965 by fire after being struck by lightning, and the South Congregational Church suffered the same fate a decade later. A new Town Manager Charter was adopted in 1967.

Crossing the tracks on High Street - High Street originally continued straight until the first bridge over the railroad tracks was constructed in 1906. From 1900 when the first trolleys came to town until the bridge was built, passengers had to unload here to switch from the trolley from Newburyport to continue through Ipswich.
The Ipswich ice house The Ice House - Lathrop Brothers Coal and Ice Company harvested on the Ipswich River between Upper River Road and Haywood Street. Lines were drawn on the ice and horses dragged "groovers" along the line, cutting the ice about 6 to 8 inches deep. The ice was then floated to the ice house, where it was cut into blocks.
Eunice Stanwood Caldwell Cowles - Eunice Caldwell attended Ipswich Female Seminary from 1828 to 1829, where she began a lasting friendship with Mary Lyon. She married the Reverend John Phelps Cowles in 1838, and returned to Ipswich in 1844 to reopen the Seminary, which they ran until it closed in 1876.
The Ipswich Safety Steam Automobile, 1901 - The Safety Steam Automobile Company headquarters was in Boston but its factory was at Depot Square in Ipswich.
The Oceanside Hotel in Gloucester MA The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann, 1905 - At the beginning of the 20th Century, Cape Ann was a popular destination for tourists. Gloucester’s grand hotels were the subject of “The Summer Hotel Guide,” published in 1905. Images and text are available through Archive.org: “This little book will rejoice in the thought that it has accomplished […]
The Giles Firmin Park: from tannery to arboretum to playground - The locality became very unsightly and in 1906, the land and buildings were laid out the lot as an attractive park and garden, maintained by the subscriptions of the proprietors.
Boston streetcar 1906 The streets of Boston, 1906 - Boston’s first motorized trolley opened on Jan. 5, 1889. Within seven years, the city had a network of electric streetcars. Enjoy this 1906 trolley ride on Boston’s busy Boylston Street. Read more at the New England Historical Society.
Gorton’s becomes the largest fishing business on the Atlantic coast, March 31, 1906 - On March 31, 1906, the people of Cape Ann were stunned by the news that Gorton’s would merge with three other Gloucester fish companies.
Hook and Ladder 1 and heroic George Gilmore - by Harold Bowen, from Tales of Olde Ipswich, Volume 1. (published early 1970’s). He adds, “It is hoped that after my story is read this week, those persons who delight in sounding a false fire alarm will perhaps have found a lesson in this tragedy on South Main […]
Dustbane–sawdust in a can! - Dustbane Products was founded in 1908 by two entrepreneurial Canadians, Chester E. Pickering and George W. Green, who managed to convince people to buy pine-scented sawdust for cleaning floors, despite the fact that people already used free sawdust for that purpose. U.S. Manufacturing plants were established in Chicago and Ipswich.The […]
The Ada K. Damon, April 2020 Wreck of the Ada K. Damon - Christmas, 1909 witnessed the heaviest storm in many years. The ship was wrecked during the captain's first trip for a load of sand from the plentiful supply on Plum Island.
Ipswich MA Strand Theater in 1941 The Strand Opera House and Theater - The Strand Opera House was built in 1909 on Market Street in Ipswich and hosted operas, plays, travelling shows and even the Boston Symphony. In 1930 the Strand burned and re-opened as a movie theater. It was demolished in 1985.
1910 Ipswich Census 1910 Ipswich census and maps - The 121 handwritten 1910 Federal Census survey forms for Ipswich provide a wealth of information about the population of Ipswich during its greatest period of industrial growth, which included the arrival of hundreds of immigrants to work in the Ipswich Mills. Survey forms for Ipswich are provided through Archive.org. The lists below […]
Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910-11 - In 1909, W. Starling Burgess joined with Augustus Moore Herring to form the Herring-Burgess Company, manufacturing aircraft under a license with the Wright Brothers, thus becoming the first licensed aircraft manufacturer in the United States. Burgess took the initial flight of his first plane in 1908 at Chebacco Lake in Hamilton, MA. […]
The Grand Wenham Canal The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common - The Topsfield Rail Trail is a “Linear Common” following the former Danvers to Newburyport rail line, which was officially abandoned in 1981. A plaque at the trailhead in downtown Topsfield details the former railroad’s history.The trail connects to the Danvers Rail Trail as part of the greater Border to […]
Charles Wendell Townsend, Ipswich naturalist - Born in Boston, November 10, 1859, Charles Wendell Townsend, M.D. was attracted by the natural beauty of Ipswich. He built a summer house on a ridge overlooking a wide expanse of salt marsh with open sea to the east. From here he wrote a number of books, including […]
Lawrence textile "Bread and Roses" strike marchers January 12, 1912: Lawrence Bread and Roses strike - On January 12, 1912, the labor protest later known as the "Bread and Roses" strike began in Lawrence, MA. Violent methods were used to suppress the protest, but the strikers maintained their solidarity.
Teddy Roosevelt’s “whistlestop” in Ipswich, 1912 - Campaigning as the vice-presidential nominee with William McKinley in 1900, Theodore Roosevelt conducted one of the most famous political campaigns in U.S. history, traveling by train and making 480 stops in 23 states. Following the assassination of President McKinley in September 1901, Theodore Roosevelt, at age 42, succeeded to the Presidency, […]
Lowell women’s suffrage activist Florence Luscomb - Florence Luscomb was among the first women to graduate from M.I.T. with a degree in architecture. In her career she designed designed public buildings and housing for workers, while working tirelessly for women's suffrage.
Police open fire at the Ipswich Mills Strike, June 10, 1913 - On June 10, 1913, police fired into a crowd of protesting immigrant workers at the Ipswich hosiery mill. A young Greek woman named Nicholetta Paudelopoulou was shot in the head and killed by police. Fifteen persons, including the local leaders of the I.W.W. were taken into custody.
The Great Salem Fire, June 25, 1914 - A raging fire a half-mile mile wide and a mile-and-a-half long burned a swath through the city. Almost half of the population of 48,000 people lost their homes.
The brass rooster atop the First Church steeple in Ipswich MA Saving the Rooster - The gilded weathercock at the First Church in Ipswich has graced the steeple of every church at that location since the middle of the 18th Century.
William Clancy, WWI hero - Featured image: The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard Jack Harold Bowen wrote in Tales from Olde Ipswich that William Clancy’s family lived in the Old Post Office on North Main Street. Thomas Franklin Waters spoke about historic actions by William Clancy in a 1917 address to the Ipswich Historical Society, […]
The Halifax Explosion – One Plea for Help Launches a Crusade – New England Historical Society - On the evening of December 5, 1917 a French ship, the SS Mont-Blanc, entered the Halifax harbor as the Norwegian ship Imo was exiting. The Imo was empty, stopping in Halifax on the way to New York to obtain relief supplies for war-torn Belgium. Unknown to anyone but the crew […]
The National Guard at Cable Hospital in Ipswich during the Spanish Flu epidemic Timeline of the Flu Pandemic of 1918 in Ipswich - By Monday September 27th, the Pandemic is raging and has made the front-page of the Ipswich Chronicle for the first time. In the 19 months of US involvement in the Great War, approximately 55,000 U.S. soldiers lose their lives in European combat. In nine weeks just prior to the end of the War, approximately 60,000 U.S. soldiers — back in camps within the United States — lose their lives to the Flu
The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic in Ipswich - Influenza made its appearance in Ipswich in September of 1918. The state authorities took over the hospital that Oct. 6, and erected 50 tents. The 15th Infantry was put to the task. It was estimated that there were at least 1,500 cases of the flu in Ipswich during the height of this disease with at least 66 deaths.
American Red Cross ambulance during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 A century ago – The Spanish Flu epidemic raged in Massachusetts in 1918 - The flu pandemic that spread throughout the world in 1918-1919 may have killed more people than the medieval Black Death.
Boston Post molasses explosion January 16, 1919 Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, January 15, 1919 - On January 15, 1919, people in Boston's North End were startled by a loud rumbling noise. They watched in horror as a five-story tank broke apart, unleashing a wave of molasses 15 feet high and 160 feet wide.
Nancy Astor, Hamilton MA Nancy’s Corner - Google Maps used to show "Nancy's Corner" at the intersection of Highland Street and Cutler Road in Hamilton. I wondered who Nancy was and discovered an amazing story.
Boston rum runners caught during prohibition Rum runners - Ipswich folks have always had a taste for good rum. Its hidden creeks was a paradise for the rum runners and bootleggers during the Prohibition era. Tales of the Coast Guard chasing rum runners were common. It was very seldom that one could be caught. The booze was unloaded at convenient places like Gould's Bridge. To distract the authorities, someone would set a fire in town.
The day Nute Brown crashed through the Choate Bridge - In the early 1900's, just about everybody knew Elisha Newton Brown, better known as Nute Brown. He was a prosperous farmer who lived in the Candlewood section of town.
Wreck of the Edward S. Eveleth, October 1922 - In October 1922, the sand schooner Edward S. Eveleth rolled over when a wave rushed over her deck and pushed her onto the edge of Steep Hill Beach. Filled with sand, each tide buried her deeper. Her remains were visible for several years. The skeleton of the hull is just off-shore a short distance from the wreck of the Ada K. Damon.
Crocker snow of Ipswich, an aviation pioneer Crocker Snow, Aviation Pioneer - A grassy strip near the intersection of Topsfield and Mill Roads belonged to Crocker Snow, an aviation pioneer. He received Massachusetts Pilot License No. 5 in 1927, signed by Orville Wright.
Ralph W. Burnham, Antiques and Hooked Rugs - In the late 19th Century, hooked rugs gained immense popularity, partly due to a Maine Peddler and rug hooker named Edward Sands Frost, who introduced preprinted hooked-rug patterns on burlap. In 1876, when Frost sold his business, he had about 180 patterns. Frost’s patterns included a wide variety of natural […]
Evergreen Village, Rt. 1 in Ipswich Gettin’ away on the ‘Pike - In the first half century of the automotive age, a weekend trip to the country for Boston folks often meant driving a few miles north on the Newburyport Turnpike and renting a cabin not too far from the shore. The Douglass Evergreen Village, above, was on Rt. 1 […]
Lakeman's Lane and Fellows Road Ipswich Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road - One hundred years ago, Lakemans Lane was a narrow dirt road lined by stone walls. You can still see the imprint of the pastures and fields that once marked the original properties.
The Agawam House in Ipswich The Great Agawam Stable Fire - By Harold Bowen, 1975 In the days of stagecoaches, there were several inns along the old Bay Road and High Street. These inns also provided stables in which to house the horses.. One of the later hotels was the Agawam House on North Main Street. In 1806 Nathaniel […]
The little old lady from Ipswich seen around the world The “Little Old Lady from Ipswich” who was seen around the world - In 1934, Mrs. Mary C. Hayes became the centerpiece of a poster that was placed in 25,000 English-speaking theaters throughout the world. Mrs. Hayes was chosen as the model by famous Ipswich artist M. Leone Bracker (1885 – 1937) as the personification of the great body of movie-goers. The theme of this […]
Soffron Brothers Ipswich Clams - Soffron Brothers were the exclusive suppliers of clams to the Howard Johnson chain for 32 years, which featured Ipswich Fried Clams on the menu. The four brothers, Tom, George, Pete and Steve, were the children of Greek immigrants who came to work at the Ipswich mills. Their Ipswich factor was at Brown Square in the building that now houses the Ipswich Ale Brewery.
Burke Heel Factory, Ipswich MA The Burke Heel Factory and Canney Lumber Fire, June 19, 1933 - The factory at Brown Square burned after volatile glues burst into flames. In the adjoining lot was the Canney Lumber Co. where the building lumber were destroyed. The smaller brick building on the right survived and is now the Ipswich Ale Brewery.
Ipswich in the Great Depression - The severe winter of 1933-34, in which below-zero temperatures lasted for weeks, added great misery to the lives of the homeless during the Great Depression. As part of the New Deal, President Roosevelt signed a forced draft work relief program known as the Civil Works Administration, putting millions to work on […]
WPA dam on Green Street in Ipswich The Green Street dam - (*In March 1934, Congress passed the Civilian Conservation bill, creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC). It was through this program that the old jail on Green Street was demolished and the short-lived Green Street dam was built.) by Harold Bowen, Volume III Tales of Olde Ipswich, […]
Ipswich Tricentennial parade, 1934 The 1934 parade celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the founding of Ipswich - The Indian village of Agawam became a Puritan settlement in 1633 as an outpost of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The community was named Ipswich in 1634 upon the official founding of the town. Click on any photo to begin the slideshow. Click on the X in the upper […]
Ipswich Red Raiders, “a melting pot of awesome contenders!” - “A melting pot of awesome contenders were the Ipswich Red Raiders, members of a semiprofessional football league active during the late 1930’s and 1940’s. Made up of Ipswich men in their twenties and early thirties, they played teams from the surrounding cities and as far north as Augusta, […]
A Heated Battle – Lodge vs. Curley 1936 - by Helen Breen Some things never change. In the midst of the inflammatory rhetoric of the 2016 American Presidential campaign, let us pause and reflect on the simpler, but no less acrimonious, political days of yore. To wit – the Massachusetts US Senate race of 1936. In the […]
Ipswich MA lighthouse Santa hits the Ipswich lightkeeper’s house, December 24, 1937 - In 1939 the children were all assembled at the Ipswich Lighthouse, waiting for Fying Santa Edward Snow, who was running a bit behind schedule. Hearing the sound of an airplane the keeper called up to his wife, "Has Santa arrived yet, dear?" Immediately he heard the Christmas bundle crashing through the skylight, upon which his wife yelled down, "Yes, dear. We can start the party now."
The Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WW II - The former Ipswich Mills, now owned by EBSCO, was the site of one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Second World War.
Ipswich during World War II - WWII scrap metal collection in Ipswich To build tanks, ships, and planes during WWII, scrap metal drives were held across the country, and Ipswich was no exception. Do you recognize this location? The Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WWII The former Ipswich Mills, now owned by EBSCO, was the site of one of the most […]
WWII scrap metal collection in Ipswich - To build tanks, ships, and planes during WWII, scrap metal drives were held across the country, and Ipswich was no exception.The location is Market Square across from Market Street.
The Ipswich Company Massachusetts State Guard The Ipswich Company, Massachusetts State Guard, 1942 - (Thanks to Larry Collins for sharing this  document) With substantially 15,000 man hours of practice, procedure and training under their military belts, the Ipswich Company of the Massachusetts State Guard is rapidly being whipped into shape as a trained military unit for the protection of life and property […]
Battle of clammers over the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Clam Battle! (Life Magazine, July 16, 1945) - The government had taken over the lands for a Wildlife Refuge. The clam battle was on. Arguments were almost as thick as Ipswich clams. Ipswich hunters were afraid of losing their private hunting reserves. Ipswich farmers were afraid of losing their land.
Ipswich MA high school class of 1948 Class of ’48 - Click on the image. Do you recognize some of the names and faces?  Photos and names are shown left to right, rows starting from the top. (Plus Ipswich Tiger yearbooks 1919 - 2015)
Building a ship in Essex - By the early 1840s, Essex no longer had its own fishing fleet, but had turned to year-round shipbuilding fostering a symbiotic relationship with the successful fishermen in Gloucester
Ipswich telephone exchange story by Harold Bowen The Hello Girls - Harold Bowen wrote, "My family was more or less a telephone family. My father, two brothers and a sister-in-Iaw were all telephone operators. The dial system is quicker and more efficient, but it still cannot compare with that personal touch you had with the Hello Girls."
Block prints from the 1950 IHS calendar: Old Time Ipswich - Thanks to Bill Barton for sharing the Ipswich High School "Old Time Ipswich." featuring block prints created and printed by the students for each month of the calendar.
Ipswich woman survived two train crashes on February 28, 1956! - Every day Charlotte Lindgren boarded at Ipswich Depot for her commute to Boston and back. On February 28, 1956, she was unfortunate to be in two horrible train crashes in the same morning, but survived them both unscathed.
Emma Safford, Ipswich MA Emma Jane Mitchell Safford - Emma Jane Mitchell Safford was a descendant of Massasoit, Sachem of the Wampanoag. Her daughter, also Emma, tried to help her relatives regain land taken from them on the reservation.
Memories of Quint’s Corner - This is a 1967 photo of  Quint’s Corner (The Tyler block) in Ipswich which Robert Swan shared with the “I Grew Up in Ipswich” Facebook group. Buddy Riel commented, “Quints Corner had an effect on so many Ipswich people. A lot of us can mark the stages of […]
The Ipswich discovery of PaleoIndian artifacts at Bull Brook The Bull Brook Paleo-Indian Discovery - in the early 1950's, a group of young amateur archeologists men discovered one of the largest Paleo-Indian sites in North America along the banks of Bull Brook and the Egypt River in Ipswich, with over 6,000 artifacts uncovered.
“At long last, sir, have you left no sense of decency?” - On June 9, 1954, before a nationwide television audience, Joseph Welch of Waltham replied to Joseph McCarthy, "Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness."
Hurricane Carol, September 6, 1954 - These photos were taken after the September 6, 1954 storm knocked down trees and power lines all over Ipswich. Hurricane Carol devastated the Massachusetts south coast and Rhode Island, and was responsible for 65 deaths in New England and $642 million in damage. On September 11, Hurricane Edna hit […]
Life in the summer of polio - Polio killed 3,145 people in the United States in 1952 and crippled tens of thousands. Children were kept inside, and public health officials imposed quarantines. From 1956 - 57 over 6000 Ipswich children and adults received the new Salk polio vaccine, and in 1962, Ipswich residents received the oral Sabin vaccine. Since 1979, no cases of polio have originated in the United States. David Lindgren tells what it was like in 1949, "the Summer of Polio."
Ipswich MA Conservation Commission 1958 Ipswich Conservation Commission at its 60th anniversary - The Town of Ipswich established the state's first Conservation Commission in 1958. Commissions were given responsibility to administer the Wetlands Protection Act, and by the mid-1980s, every city and town in the Commonwealth had established a conservation commission. 
John Updike, the Ipswich years - In 1957, John Updike moved to Ipswich, where he and his family lived in the Polly Dole house on East Street, where they lived for seventeen years. Updike wrote that “Most Americans have not had the happy experience of living for thirteen years in a seventeenth-century house, since most of […]
Kings Rook and the Stonehenge Club, when Ipswich rocked! -  In the 1960's, music could be heard in Ipswich at the King's Rook. In 1969, Phil Cole purchased the business and renamed it Stonehenge, Tom Rush, Judy Collins. the Paul Butterfield Band. Bo Didley, Al Kooper, Bonnie Rait and many other famous musicians played there before it closed in 1972.
First Church burns, June 13, 1965 - It was a sad day for Ipswich when on June 13, 1965, lightning hit the steeple on the sanctuary of the First Church on Meeting House Green and the building was destroyed by fire. The building was more than a century old and was considered to be one of the […]
Proposed Ipswich MA Nuclear Power Generating Plant Nuclear Ipswich, 1967-1970 - In 1967, Ipswich was proposed as a site for an anti-ballistic missile base, and in 1970 opponents prevented construction of a nuclear power plant on Town Farm Road that eventually was built in Seabrook.
The Middle Circumferential Highway (that never happened) - In its 1968 comprehensive report “Recommended Highway and Transit Plan” the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDPW) proposed a new beltway around the Boston area that would be situated between MA 128 and I-495. The Middle Circumferential Highway would have been a 66-mile loop six-lane expressway cutting through the Ipswich River […]
Hayes Hotel, Depot Square, Ipswich MA The Hayes Hotel - The Hayes Hotel was constructed in 1842 as a woolen goods factory. Converted to a tavern and hotel in 1885, the building was being used as a rooming house when it burned in 1969 with a loss of life.
Massachusetts protest against the Vietnam War April 1, 1970: The Massachusetts Legislature challenges the Vietnam War - On April 1st, 1970, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill known as the "Shea Act," which declared that no inhabitant of Massachusetts "shall be required to serve" abroad in an armed hostility that has not been declared a war by Congress, under Article I of the U.S. Constitution.
Elizabeth Cole Ipswich MA selectman Elizabeth S. Cole elected as first female Ipswich selectman, March 10, 1970 - Trouncing three male contenders, including the incumbent, Mrs. Elizabeth S. Cole of Argilla Road swept into office Monday, poling 1401 of the 3364 ballots cast by an estimated 57.5 per cent of the town electorate.
Captain Arthur Hardy Vietnam War Captain Arthur H. Hardy, 1972 - Arthur Hans Hardy grew up in Ipswich, On a mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos on March 14, 1972, Hardy's aircraft was hit and he bailed out nar enemy troops. His body is buried at Highland Cemetery in Ipswich.
The Preston-Foster house, Ipswich MA Something to Preserve - Featured image: the Preston-Foster house on Water Street. Something To Preserve was published by the Ipswich Historical Commission in 1975 and is a report on historic preservation by the acquisition of protective agreements on buildings in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This important book described the process by which the town of […]
South Congregational Church in Ipswich MA South Congregational Church: Only the Bell Remains - The South Congregational church burned on December 10, 1977. The lot is now a small park with two benches and the bell which survived the fire, surrounded by the old foundation.
The Blizzard of ’78, February 5, 1978 - The "Blizzard of '78" raged from Sunday evening February 5 through Tuesday evening February 7. Over a billion dollars of damage occurred, including the loss of 11,000 homes and the lives of 29 Massachusetts residents. The highest total snowfall was 43.7 inches in Ipswich.
Sally Weatherall - Sally's Pond on South Main St. is dedicated to the memory of Sally Weatherall, who volunteered many hours to her Town as a member of the Conservation Commission and helped achieve development of the Open Space Plan.
The Ipswich drive-through ban - In 1999, the Town of Ipswich began a growth management initiative for the 21st Century which came to be called “The Future of Ipswich Planning Project.” Its overall purpose was to help the residents, business owners, and property owners in Ipswich agree on a vision for the future […]

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