45 Heartbreak Road, the James Burnham house (1690)

45 Heartbreak Road, the James Burnham house (1690)
45 Heartbreak Road, the James Burnham house (1690)

James Burnham was born in Ipswich in 1650 and died in 1729. He was married to Mary Cogswell. The first period home was built at 45 Heartbreak Road in 1690. Over the years it has been remodeled greatly.

James Burnham, son of Thomas Burnham who built the Giddings-Burnham House on Argilla Road served as a trooper in King Philip’s War, fighting in the Narragansett winter campaign under Major Samuel Appleton of Ipswich. James Burnham was also a witness in the Salem witch trials of 1692. His real estate dealings in the Candlewood section of Ipswich suggest that he was a man of some wealth, who could have afforded to construct or acquire a house comparable to the Whipple House.

There is strong evidence that a significant First Period structure is enclosed within the later finishes of this house, including

  1. Joist spacing of 17 to 18 1/2 inches (among houses examined by Cummings, those with comparable joist spacing were all built before 1683
  2. Steep roof pitch
  3. Nearly 20 feet square room dimensions (consistent with other major 17th century buildings in Ipswich
  4. Extreme width of summer beam boxes on both floors, suggesting that the enclosed summer beams are among the widest on record
  5. The disparity in wall width between the first and second floors on the three outer walls of the right-hand room (deeper walls on the first floor are often a telltale sign that overhanging second stories were later closed in

One of these features alone would not be sufficient proof of First Period construction, but together they provide compelling evidence that the Burnham house was constructed in the First Period. The house, in room dimension, suspected presence of overhangs, and possible presence of crossed summer beams most closely resembles the Whipple House and the Ross Tavern in Ipswich, and may, therefore, like those houses, be part of what Cummings called the distinctively elegant regional school of architecture that flowered in Ipswich in the late 17th century.

Prudence Fish remembers that a carpenter working on the house found something that didn’t make sense and called her to take a look.  She observed that the right hand side was early and the left hand side had a side lean-to which had been raised up to two stories.

Source: MACRIS

45 Heartbreak Road, the James Burnham house (1690)
Image from the MACRIS site

Homes of the Burnham family of Ipswich

Burnham-Brown house, 86 County Rd., Ipswich MA 86 County Road, the Burnham – Brown house (1775) - This house was built in 1775 on a lot on Candlewood Rd., probably by Thomas Burnham. In 1821 Nathan Brown bought the house from Oliver Appleton, and 3 years later he removed it to its present site on County Rd. Brown and others enlarged and remodeled the old Burnham House, but some 18th century features remain.
50 Argilla Road, the Burnham-Andrews house (1815) - The Burnham farm at one time stretched both sides of Argilla Road. This house was probably moved a short distance to this location by J. Howard Burnham in the late 18th or early 19th Century.
45 Heartbreak Road, the James Burnham house (1690) 45 Heartbreak Road, the James Burnham house (1690) - The first period home was built in 1690 and has been remodeled greatly. It is an example of the distinct architecture that flowered in Ipswich in the late 17th century
43 Argilla Road, the Giddings – Burnham house (b 1667) - The earliest section of the Giddings-Burnham House at 43 Argilla Road in Ipswich was built in the mid-17th Century by carpenter George Giddings who immigrated from Norfolk, England. The earliest documentation for this property was the deed of sale between George Giddings and his brother-in-law Thomas Burnham in 1667.
126 High St., Ipswich MA 126 High Street, Burnham’s Antiques (c 1920) - Ralph W. Burnham owned several Ipswich antiques businesses at the turn of the 20th Century. He employed experts to repair and restore antique rugs, at High Street store, which was later used as a marine supplies store and still stands today.
Burnam-Patch House, 1 Turkey Shore 1 Turkey Shore Road, the Burnham-Patch-Day house c 1670-1730 - This house has a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission. The house was built by Thomas Burnham in 1730 on the foundation of the earlier house he bought in 1667. The large ell on Poplar Street was added in the early nineteenth-century. Abner Day bought the house of the heirs of John Patch in 1814 and kept a well-known tavern.

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