3 High Street, the John Gaines house (1725)

The John Gaines house at 3 High St. is a 1725 frame building remodeled in 1806 with McIntire-type Federal trim and detail found particularly in the two front first-floor rooms.

The following text is from the book, “Something to Preserve” by the Ipswich Historical Commission:

“The left hand first-floor front room has an outstanding Mcintire-type mantelpiece with ropework molding. The rest of the room reveals rosettes and reeded detail in the wainscoting, arched doorways with reeded trim, recessed paneled windows and dentil-molded cornices. The exterior rear wall has a fine molded arched window. The roof is pitched in the front, with a hipped roof to the rear, a curious formation that gives evidence of a Federalized house of considerably earlier date. The building’s existing trim ranks with the best in New England.”

The front stairway

Henry Gaines emigrated from England to Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1638. His son John moved to Ipswich and married Mary Treadwell. They had one son John II, who became a turner and chairmaker. Three members of the Gaines family in Ipswich are famous for the chairs they produced: John Gaines II (1677–1748); John II’s younger son, Thomas Gaines (1712–1761), who stayed in Ipswich and worked with his father; and Thomas’ brother John Gaines III (1704–1743), who moved from Ipswich to Portsmouth, NH about 1724 and established the shop that made the Gaines chairs famous. The Gaines family produced numerous types of chairs commonly found in colonial New England, but their work was distinguished by the use of carved feet, yoke-shaped cresting, and designs on the front and back stretchers.

For many years the Gaines house served as the Episcopal rectory, and was also the home of William Oakes, a horticulturist and educator. After his death in 1848 from falling off the east Boston railroad ferry, his widow operated a boarding house here for students at the Ipswich Female Seminary.

John Gaines House

John Gaines House

This house is within the Ipswich Architectural Preservation District, and has a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission. Preserved elements shall not be altered without prior written approval of the Historical Commission. View a copy of the preservation agreement.

  • The front and side facades of the dwelling
  • The central frame, including primary and secondary members
  • The wooden architectural elements, including paneling, mantelpieces, doors and other molded detail in the two front first floor rooms.
  • The wooden architectural elements, including the stairway, paneling, doors, and other molded detail in the central hall of the dwelling.


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