Ipswich Mills Historic District

The houses in this aerial photograph were built in the early 1900s by the Ipswich Mills Company to house the workers of their mill, located just east of this area. The company was the largest employer in town and the largest producer of stockings in the world. Six parallel streets, 1st Street to 6th Street plus Estes and Kimball Streets were laid out by the Ipswich Mills Company to provide housing for their workers, many of whom were Polish. This area became known as “Pole Alley”.

Ipswich Mills National Register Historic District
ipswich_mills_map

The Ipswich Mills Historic District is the community in Ipswich MA west of EBSCO Publishing bordered by Union St., the MBTA commuter rail tracks and the Ipswich River. The former woolen and stocking mill buildings more recently housed the Sylvania fluorescent lighting plant, and are where in 1942 Sylvania designed and assembled the proximity fuse for WWII bombs. The buildings now are the home of EBSCO Publishing.

Lace and stocking-making developed as a home industry in Ipswich after the first stocking machine was smuggled from England to Ipswich in 1822. In 1868, Amos A. Lawrence established the original Ipswich Hosiery Mills in the old stone mill on County Street. By the turn of the 20th century the company had moved to the Ipswich Mills location and had become the largest stocking mill in the country. Tanning, shoe making and machine knitting industries also started up, and immigrants from England, Ireland, Canada, Poland and Greece arrived in Ipswich to work in the mills. Many of their descendants still live in Ipswich, contributing to its diverse cultural heritage.

Norma Marcaurelle: My great-grandparents are listed here at 3 Fourth St. Antonia died in the flu epidemic in 1918. This is my aunt standing in the yard on the day of her First Communion, probably around 1934.

At various stages the Company hired English, Polish, Greek, Canadian, and Irish workers, making the Alley a very diverse ethnic area. In order to afford the houses, workers brought in boarders. One account indicates that there were as many as four to a room in these two-bedroom houses. As late as 1917, 75% of the Ipswich Mills workers were women and although the town directories list the men and their occupations, it can be assumed that many of these women were working in the Ipswich Mills. When the Ipswich Mills Company closed in 1928 the houses were sold for as little as $2000, often to the Polish residents who had worked in the mills. Most of the houses remain single-family residences today. (reference MACRIS listing by the Ipswich Historical Commission, 1990).

Houses on Kimball St. in the Ipswich Mills Historic District

Houses and streets

First Street: The three two-family houses at 2-4, 6-8 and 10-12 First Street were originally Identical. Each rises from a brick foundation and is enclosed by a gable roof from which project two brick chimneys. When the Ipswich Mills Company closed In 1928 the houses were sold, many to the Polish residents who had worked in the mill.

The earliest occupants of these houses to be identified living here in 1916 are:

  • John and Veronik Marhut (#2)
  • Peter and Zafi Vaz (#4). 
    • *On August 1, 1928, Ipswich Mills Corporation sold the house at #2-4 First St. to Timothy & Stella Kasinkski and Boleslaw & Michalina Ywucz, as tenants in common “for consideration paid.” Timothy Kasinski sold his half to Boleshaw Ywucz 7/12/1967; and on March 2, 1976, Alexander F. and William Anthony Ywucz sold to Audrey Davis (deed 6221-293)
  • Mike Koval (#6) , “Poles” (#8)
  • Joseph and Bronisklava Mihai (#10)
  • Kavol and Annie Varyaz ( # 12)

Peatfield Street:

The houses at 9, 11, 13, and 15 Peatfield Street were built by the Ipswich Mills Company shortly before 1907 to houses operatives of their mill, and are nearly identical, rising one and one-half stories from brick foundations in an L-shaped plan. The earliest occupants of these houses to be identified living here in 1916 are:

  • Bill (and Galomeja) Kubic (#9)
  • Peter (and Stella) Brenisky (#11)
  • Frank (and Rosie) Kobos (#13)
  • John (and Luduika) Sulejko, (# 15)

Kobos and Sulejkoare listed as mill operatives, while Kubic was a shoe worker and Brenisky a farm hand

Second Street

These houses were built by the Ipswich Mills Company shortly before 1907 to houses operatives of their mill. The earliest occupants of these houses to be identified living here in 1916 are:

  • Standley (& Metgozata) Holder (#2)
  • Peter (& Annie) Puzniak (#4)
  • Mascie] (& Ludviki) Gurski (#6)
  • Mike (& Tofila) Rymsza (#8)
  • John (& Ludviki) Fiderovicz (#10)
  • Barney (& Balvina) Kapis (#12).

Holder, Gurski, and Kapis were all mill workers, while Rymsza was a teamster and Fiderovicz was a farm hand

Fourth Street

These houses were built by the Ipswich Mills Company before 1910 to house operatives of their mill. The earliest occupants of these houses to be identified living here in 1916 are:

  • Peter and EvaOstrega (#1)
  • Adam and Antonina Pszybysz (#3)
  • Mrs. Angelina Galoupas (#5)
  • James and Virginia Barakos (#7)

Barakos and Pszybysz are listed as mill workers, while Ostrega was employed in a pool room. No occupation is given for Galoupas.

Fifth Street

These houses were built by the Ipswich Mills Company between 1910 and 1916 to houses operatives of their mill. The earliest occupants of these houses to be identified living here in 1916 are:

  • Fred Doultsinos (#1 )
  • Gamraimbos Cariotes (#2)
  • Stephen Summerduck (#3)
  • Charles Kurkul (#4)
  • “Greeks” (#5),
  • J. Pappas (#6)
  • (#7 – vacant)
  • John F. Gillis (#8)

Cariotes, Summerdick and Kurkul are all listed as mill workers, while Doultsinos was a shoe worker. Gillis is listed as a laborer. An occupation Is not given for Pappas.

Sixth Street

These houses were built by the Ipswich Mills Company between 1910 and 1916 to houses operatives of their mill. The earliest occupants of these houses to be identified living here in 1916 are:

  •  Zenon & Ludwika Budzianowskl (#1)
  • Adam & Stefania Komszczak (#2)
  • Frank & Frances Sinklevic (#3)
  • John & Mary Sczahovic (#4)
  • “Greeks” (#5)
  • Josep & Annie Slysz (#6)

All but Sczahovic, who was a farm hand, are listed in town directories as mill workers.

Kimball Street: The houses at 2, 4, 6 and 8 Kimball St. were built by the Ipswich Mills Company between 1910 and 1916 to houses operatives of their mill. The earliest occupants of these houses have not been recorded.

River Court

The houses on River Court are two and one-half story dwellings that were originally identical, built by the Ipswich Mills Company shortly before 1907 to house operatives of their mill. The earliest occupants of these houses to be identified living here in 1916 are:

  • Thomas & Katie Sikora (#1)
  • W. French (#2)
  • Vincenty & Bronislaze Valaszek (#3)
  • Michael & Maggie Starseak (#4)
  • Felix & Pauline Someczko (#5)
  • John & Petrusia Adamovicz (#6)
  • Stanley & Mary Wotrobo (#7)

Starseak, Someczko, Adamovicz and Wotrobo were all mill operatives.

National Register of Historic Places

The Brown Stocking Mill Historic District is across Topsfield Road and includes mills and worker housing dating from 1906 at the Brown Stocking Mill on Brownville Ave. established by Harry Brown. Due to their historic nature, the two Ipswich Mills and Brown Mills neighborhoods were each eligible for designation as a National Historic District, an area or property associated with events or developments of significance to the history of their community or which have significant architectural history or engineering achievements.

Both districts were added to the National Park Services Registry of Historic Places in August of 1996 after being documented by a professional preservation consultant. That same year EBSCO Publishing moved into the old Ipswich Woolen Mills buildings. The Riverside Building built in 1868 is part of the EBSCO facility and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Owners of properties listed in the National Register may be eligible for a 20% investment tax credit for the rehabilitation of income-producing commercial, industrial, or rental residential buildings. Properties must be rehabilitated according to standards set by the Secretary of the Interior.

Women working in the Ipswich Hosery mill
Women working in the Boston location of Ipswich Hosiery

In 1913, a strike by non English-speaking workers demanding a 20 percent wage increase at the Ipswich Hosiery Mills plant was organized by members of the local Industrial Workers of the World. There was considerable agitation, and agitated residents at a large meeting at town hall declared “We have got to meet force with force.” On June 19, police fired into a crowd of protesting immigrant workers just after the non-striking English-speaking workers had left the plant.

A young Greek woman named Nicholetta Paudelopoulou was shot in the head and killed by police as watched, and seven persons were injured, including several policemen hit by flying bottles and debris tossed by the demonstrators. Fifteen persons, including the local leaders of the I.W.W. were taken into custody. Nicholetta was buried at the Immigrant Cemetery, part of the Highland Cemetery Annex on Fowler’s Lane, where there are over 300 immigrant graves, many unmarked.

classrooms at Ipswich Mills
Immigrants and children at classes in Ipswich Mill

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