The John Manning House at 36 North Main Street was built in 1769 by Doctor John Manning. It has one of the first preservation agreements in Ipswich, created by the Ipswich Heritage Trust and now administered by the Ipswich Historical Commission.
Manning was a pioneer in the development of a smallpox vaccine. When he drove his chaise to Boston to bring his sister-in-law back to the safety of Ipswich on the day of the Battle of Bunker Hill he was allowed to enter Boston by first agreeing to treat British casualties of the battle. After returning to Ipswich with his sister-in-law, he spent that evening collecting medical supplies from Ipswich residents and then returned to treat casualties from both sides for seven weeks.
Dr. Manning was also an inventor and built an unsuccessful wind-driven woolen mill on the site of the present Caldwell Block next to the Choate Bridge. His second mill at the Willowdale Dam was more successful.
Dr. Manning was of course a member of the First Church, where his family occupied a pew assigned to the highest-ranking members of town. In about the year 1801, attendance at the church was languishing, and it was about this time that the violin, flute and bass-viol appeared in service. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that Dr. Manning “manifested his displeasure at the worldly innovation by leaving his pew, while the orchestra played, and danced up and down the broad aisle, much to the mortification of the elder worshipers, but to the great delight of the youth and the lighter minded.”