The first roads in Ipswich followed ancient paths of the Native Americans who called this place “Agawam.” The English settlers built their homes in a half-mile radius of the Meeting House. In the year 1639, the General Court instructed that “all highways shall be laid out beforeth the next General Court. Every town shall choose two or three men who shall joyne with two or three of the next town & they shall have power to lay out ways where most convenient not withstanding any man’s propriety or any common ground.”
The 19th and 20th Century saw the size of the town grow greatly as foreign-born workers arrived to work in the flourishing mills. New neighborhoods quickly arose west of the tracks, and are known as Pole Alley, Brownville and Mount Pleasant. They are the newest Ipswich neighborhoods in the National Register of Historic Places, joining Meeting House Green Historic District, the East End Historic District, High Street Historic District, and the South Green Historic District.
View or download the Walking tour of historic Ipswich.
Argilla Road: The South Green was long known as School House Green. From there, historic Argilla Road crosses pastures and deep woods, then opens up to a scenic vista of the Great Salt Marsh and the ocean on its way from South Green to Crane Beach.
Candlewood: Why and when the name was given is largely a matter of conjecture, but the earliest settlers often lighted their houses by burning thin strips of the pitch pine trees. Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road lead to Candlewood.
Castle Hill and the Crane Estate: In 1634 the Ipswich selectmen unanimously voted “That the Neck of Land whereupon the great Hill standeth, which is known by the name of the Castle Hill, lying on the other side of this River towards the Sea, shall remayne unto the common use of the Town forever.” The property was purchased by Richard Teller Crane, Jr., on January 10, 1910. Castle Hill is nationally significant as a major surviving example of a landscaped estate of the “Country Place Era”at the turn of the 20th century.
Central Street: Created in the mid-19th Century on former wetland, Central Street quickly became the location of many downtown businesses, schools, the fire station and Victorian homes.
Depot Square: The Eastern Railroad ran from Boston to Portland, continuing to Canada and was the primary competition of the Boston and Maine Railroad until it was acquired by the B&M in the late 1880’s to become the B&M’s Eastern Division. The Ipswich Depot sat at the location of the Institution for Savings at Depot Square.
The East End Historic District: The Ipswich East End Historic District is the original sea-going part of town, and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980, and includes the seafaring portion of the original village of Ipswich.
Hammatt Street and Brown Square: Until the second half of the 19th Century, much of the area bounded by Central Street, Washington Street, Mineral Street and Market Street was a wetland with an open sewer known as Farley’s Brook running through it. Brown Square developed as an industrial area beginning around 1885. The railroad came to Ipswich in 1839, changing the town forever.
High Street Historic District: High Street was once the main residential and commercial street of the new community and several of the 17th, 18th and 19th Century houses still remaining once served as taverns, stores, or craftsman’s shops. The High Street Historical District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Ipswich Mills and Brown Stocking Mills Historic Districts: The houses were built in the early 1900’s 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.
Ipswich Village (Upper High Street): High Street was the road to Newbury or ‘the pathway leading toward the River of Merrimac.’ This neighborhood has historically identified with its nearby neighbors in Rowley.
Jeffreys’ Neck: In 1604 Agawam was the center of Arcadia, so-called in the French patent of November 8, 1603. Fishing Stages were the first European establishments on the Neck. Great Neck: Before the settlement of Ipswich was begun in 1633 by John Winthrop, William Jeffrey, who had come over in 1623, had purchased from the Indians a title to the glacial drumlin. Little Neck: In 1639, two wealthy brothers William and Robert Paine (aka Payne) procured a grant of land in the town of Ipswich from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Linebrook Parish The area began to be populated by settlers with the founding of Ipswich, primarily as agricultural land, and was known as Ipswich Farms. The outermost area, near the Old Linebrook Cemetery, was so distant from the center of Ipswich that many of the residents married people from Topsfield, Boxford and Rowley, and had affinity for those towns and churches. The Massachusetts General Court on June 4, 1746, created the Linebrook Parish and ordered that the inhabitants establish the church.
Lords Square: John Brewer was a town clerk and being on what was then the outskirts of town owned a large lot, which he divided into sections and sold. Many of the homes on adjoining High Street were owned by members of the Lord Family. The Old Payne School building built in 1802 is the most visible remaining historic building. The old fire station still stands, but abandoned. The Short Street store was owned by the Marcorelle family.
Manning Street, a Victorian neighborhood: Central Street was laid out in 1872, and Manning Street in 1882. The 1910 Ipswich map shows all of the houses now on the street, and Warren Street has been extended from North Main to Manning Street.
Market Square and Market Street: When the railroad arrived in 1839, the business district of Ipswich began to move down the hill from North Main Street. Some of the original homes still stand and are the location of present-day businesses.
Meeting House Green Historic District: This neighborhood was once the religious, governmental and commercial center of Ipswich. The earliest homes were replaced by the fine Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian homes seen there today. The Congregational Church sits at the approximate location of the original meeting house.
Mount Pleasant Neighborhood: These houses were built at a time when the foreign born population of Ipswich was on the rise. At the time these houses were built, manufacturing had become the basis of Ipswich’s economy. The Lafayette Road neighborhood including Farragut Rd, Prescott Rd, Putnam Rd. and Lafayette Rd. was built in the first decade of the 20th Century on farm land.
The South Green Historic District has a Green and an historic burying ground associated with the Second Church that burned in 1975. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
South Main Street: In March 1692 several Ipswich persons petitioned “to have liberty granted them to build shops upon ye bank by ye river side.”
Summer Street may be the oldest public way in Ipswich, and in the earliest days of the settlement was called Stony Street, or simply “The Way to the River.”
Turkey Shore: From the earliest times, the land along the south side of the riverbank was known as Turkey Shore, but no one knows why. In the mid: 19th Century, it was given the “more proper” name of Prospect Street, but by the 20th Century it had regained its colorful original name, and is a Colonial and Victorian neighborhood.
Washington and Liberty Streets One of the older established ways in town, Today’s Washington Street was called once called Bridge Street, and for two centuries was known as Gravel Street. In the late 19th Century Washington Street was extended to Linebrook Road, and Liberty Street became its own street.
Water Street is part of an early public right: of: way that extended from the wharf to the Green Street Bridge, then continued along the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk to County St.