This walking tour of the Ipswich Meeting House Green National Historic District starts at the foot of North Main Street known as Marketplace Square. Walk up the hill past the Library, around the back of the Congregational Church and down the right side of North Main Street. When you reach East Street cross to the other side of North Main Street and continue the tour in the opposite direction back toward downtown Ipswich.
Meetinghouse Green on Town Hill was the governmental center for early Ipswich. By order of the General Court, dwellings had to be within one half mile of the Meeting house. In just a dozen years after 12 men led by John Winthrop landed, 146 families made their homes in this vicinity. On this green Minute Men prepared for the war that was then regarded as inevitable. A brick powder house was constructed nearby, which also served as a recruiting center for the Civil War. Following a town meeting in 1687, the Rev. John Wise, Samuel Appleton and other town leaders were arrested and imprisoned for defying the levy of taxes by the government of Sir Edmund Andros.
A monument in the small green that splits North Main Street at Marketplace Square is dedicated to the unknown dead who served during the Civil War. It was erected by General James Appleton and the Women’s Relief Corps in 1897 as a tribute of gratitude to those union soldiers and sailors whose last resting place is unknown.
The Christian Science Church was built in 1932 and sits near the site of the former Ipswich Female Seminary, which operated from 1828 to 1876. The last witchcraft trial in the United States was brought by a Christian Science follower from Ipswich. Lucretia Brown was a 50-year-old spinster invalid who believed she had been healed through Christian Science but suffered a relapse. In 1878 she accused excommunicated Christian Scientist Daniel H. Spofford from Newburyport of attempting to harm her through his “mesmeric” mental powers. Even though Mary Baker Eddy herself appeared as a witness, the judge at the trial in Salem dismissed the case.
21 North Main, the Theodore Cogswell house was built in 1880 in the popular 2nd Empire style, indicated by the Mansard roof. Cogswell was a grocer as well as clerk and treasurer of the Ipswich Savings Bank. He also built the Victorian “painted lady” on North Main Street for his daughter after demolishing a First Period home on that site.
19 North Main the Thomas Manning house was built in 1799 by John Heard for his daughter and her husband Dr. Thomas Manning, who co-established the lace factory on High Street. He bequeathed the greater part of his estate to the town for the purpose of building the Manning School on the site of the current Winthrop School. In 1858 this house became a parsonage for First Church. According to oral histories the house was a stop on the underground railroad, and slaves slipped out through a tunnel leading downhill to the Ipswich River. This house is protected by a preservation agreement between the owners and the Ipswich Historical Commission.
First Congregational Church. When the group of thirteen settlers came to the Agawam village with John Winthrop Jr., “upon ascending the hill above the river they found an outcropping ledge of goodly extent, forming a sort of natural platform, and upon this rock they built their church.” This is the fifth church on this spot. The previous historic Gothic Revival church was hit by lightning in 1965, burned and had to be torn down. This green has always been the religious and governmental heart of Ipswich. The first meeting-house was built here by 1636.
The Devil’s Footprint: In front of the church imprinted into the rocks is the hoof print of the devil, which in 1740 was chased up the church steeple by the Reverend Whitefield, visiting minister from England during the “Great Awakening.” They wrestled and chased each other until they were face to face at the pinnacle of the steeple, with the horrified congregation watching below. Whitefield uttered forth with his commanding voice accompanied with a mighty push. The devil was hurled to the rocks below, landing on one foot and scrambled down the hill in terrified leaps and bounds, never to return.
25 North Main, the Public Library is an 1869 Greek Revival building. The library and the first books were a gift to the town from Augustine Heard and Professor Nathaniel Treadwell. The wings on either side were added later. Augustine Heard and Company grew to become the largest American firm trading along the China Coast. In 1828 Heard co-founded the Ipswich Manufacturing Company with George Farley and built a new dam to power machinery for the manufacture of cotton hosiery. Difficulties arose, Farley sold his interest to Heard, and the business was bought by Dane Manufacturing in 1846.
The Odd Fellows Building at 29 North Main Street was built in 1817 as a Probate Court and Registry. By 1884 a second floor had been added and it housed the Odd Fellows, Blake’s Drug Store and the Post Office. The Town House and County Court once sat close by. Preliminary hearings for the Salem witch trials in 1692 were conducted here. Twenty Ipswich citizens sent a letter to the governor supporting John and Elizabeth Proctor, who were nonetheless found guilty, and he was executed. Women and men accused of witchcraft were held in the Ipswich jail before being hauled off to trial in chains; all but one were found guilty and executed. The Supreme Court convened its last trial in Ipswich in 1693 to try persons charged with witchcraft, all of whom were cleared.
31 North Main, the Methodist Church was built in 1859. The new steeple is a reproduction of the original damaged in the 1974 hurricane, and hosts a cell tower. The steeple is visible for some miles out to sea and was often used by mariners as a navigation landmark. The steeple is in the middle of the Ipswich town seal drawn by Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow in the 1800’s. The Methodist Church is the oldest standing church in the historic center of Ipswich.
The Nathaniel R. Wait house at 33 North Main Street was built between 1859 and 1872. Wide roof rakes supported by corbels and dental molding are typical of the late Greek Revival era with Italianate influence. Wait was apparently a cobbler, having placed on exhibit at the Essex County Fair a pair of fishing boots judged excellent for their new pattern that had no seam inside which might hurt the foot.
At 2 Green Street is the Perkins house an 1860 home that demonstrates early Victorian era influences on the prevailing Federal and Greek Revival architecture of the 19th Century.
Built in 1832, the Old Meeting House at 12 Meeting House Green was deeded to the First Church in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1838 by George W. Heard, Esquire. It has served First church and the community of Ipswich as a Chapel and now as a coffee house and meeting place. The historic building was recently restored.
8 Meetinghouse Green, the Rev. David Kimball house. The leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony located their second jail in Ipswich here in 1652. In 1808 the site was sold to Reverend David Tenny Kimball who built this house. He was highly respected for his ministry and for his character. Kimball was a staunch abolitionist so it wasn’t surprising that many important people were entertained here, including Lyman Beecher, Daniel Webster, and the founders of the Ipswich Female Seminary, Zilpah Grant and Mary Lyon.
6 Meetinghouse Green, the Capt. Israel Pulcifer house was built in 1812 on the foundation of his existing house which had burned. Originally a hip-roof Federal style house, restoration in the 1870’s added a Second Empire mansard roof. The present owners returned it to a single-family residence in 1996. Much original woodwork, wainscoting, molding, ornamental trim, a Samuel McIntire inspired carved mantle and the Vermont slate roof survive in their original condition.
2 Meeting house Green, Joseph N. Farley (mariner) ca 1842. The symmetrical 5 bay facade has a Greek Revival portico and door frame, horizontal flush boarding and clapboards. Nathaniel Farley’s Mills ground the grist for many years. Joseph Farley his son was moved to more ambitious employment, and in 1827 built a new dam and the old stone mill for the manufacture of cotton cloth. By 1832 it had 3000 spindles and 60 looms. It spun No 30 to 32 yarn, used 80,000 lbs. of cotton, and made 450,000 yards of cloth a year. It employed on an average 18 males and 63 females
* Turn right on North Main Street
45 North Main, Isaac Flitchner: This house sits on the location of In 1825 Isaac Flitchner moved the Captain John Lord house to Washington Street and built this Greek Revival home. This was also the home of Justice Charles Augustus Sayward who tried the 18 defendants in the 1913 Ipswich Mills riot. The industrial reputation of Ipswich was vigorously defended by Judge Sayward. A Greek girl Nicoletta Paudelopoulous was shot and killed in the riot. The building now houses Morris Funeral Home.
47 North Main, the George Farley House: In 1888 Theodore Cogswell tore down the 1660 Dodge house built this large Victorian home for his daughter and her husband George Farley, owner of the Farley and Daniels shoe company. The most famous member of the family was General Michael Farley, representative from 1766 to 1774 to the Provincial Congress. When Lafayette came to Ipswich, he was met by General Farley, who in taking off his hat to salute the French nobleman, accidentally removed his wig as well. When Lafayette returned to the States for a visit in 1824 he alluded to this unusual form of courtesy.
49 North Main, the John Chapman house was built in 1770. John Chapman was a “leather breeches maker,” the only one of that trade in the town, so far as known, and he felt his business warranted building a spacious home. Breeches were a standard item of 18th Century gentlemen’s clothing with separate coverings for each leg stopping below the knee or to the ankles. They were fastened about the leg by buttons, draw-strings, straps, buckles or brooches. They fell out of use by the early 19th Century in favor of pantaloons and trousers.
The Greek Revival Sarah Lord house at 51 North Main was built in 1849. She was the wife of A. P. Lord, a storekeeper. The Asa Lord general merchandise store existed at Lords Square for 100 years. An earlier Sarah Lord born to Ipswich town clerk Robert Lord married Joseph Wilson of Andover. In 1692 she and her daughter also named Sarah were accused of witchcraft by that town’s own “afflicted girls.”
The oldest section of the Day-Dodge house at the corner of North Main and East Streets was constructed in 1737 and may have elements of the barn constructed by Francis Wainwright in 1696. This unusual double house has two entrances and two asymmetrical fronts joined at a greater than 90 degree corner. The two halves of the house came to be owned by several members of the same family. The name comes from Nathaniel Day, who owned the property in 1737, and Isaac Dodge, who bought the other section of the house in 1762. The connection between the two men the widow of Nathaniel who married Isaac.
*Reaching the intersection of North Main, High and East Streets, reverse direction and return on the other side of North Main Street.
The Capt. Richard Rogers house at 58 North Main Street was built in 1728. A fine Georgian central hallway with a closed string-course balustrade and two chimneys suggest an early high-style Georgian influence. The front room has exquisite original paneling while the rear fireplace wall has very fine shell cupboards in bolection molding with fluted pilasters. The house is said to have been moved back from the edge of the sidewalk.
The Treadwell-Hale house, 52 North Main Street was built between 1740 and 1796. The building has been used in the past as a general store and currently as a single family home. Nathaniel Treadwell purchased the lot and sold to Joseph Hale, March 5, 1799. The house has many details from the Georgian period of architecture, a rare hip roof, a “summer kitchen” fireplace in the basement as well as four other fireplaces.
50 North Main, the James Brown house, 1720 1st / 2nd Period. This 3/4 acre property had two houses and came to be owned by two families at the same until a petition to the town to divide the property was accepted. The long house on the property adjacent to the James Brown house was sold to Thomas Morley and to James Damon. Morley cut off his end of the house, turned it end to the street and made it into a separate dwelling at 48 North Main. Mr. Damon took down the remainder of the old dwelling and built the fine house at 46 North Main. Thus one lot became three, explaining why the houses sit close together.
46 North Main, the James Damon house was built in 1866. Damon was a businessman who built the County Street Mill on Falls Island at Sawmill Point, as well as the “Damon Block” downtown in Ipswich. The 2 1/2 story wood frame house has a balanced 5 bay facade with Italianate window hoods, entry porch, quoins, bracketed and decorated cornice
Harry K. Dodge bought the 44 North Main Street homestead of the widow Margaret S. Kendall in 1886. He tore down the old house and erected this Victorian home.
42 North Main: John A. Johnson was a shoemaker who built this fine house in 1871. It has Italianate window surrounds and bracketed cornices. The 10 room house has 4 bedrooms and 2 formal living rooms with ceiling medallions, a butler’s pantry, 2 kitchens and 4 artisan-crafted marble fireplaces. The Johnson shoe store was down the hill on Market Street.40 North Main,
The Captain John Brewer house John Brewer bought two small parcels on North Main St. in 1824 and on them built the present house as a general store.
38 North Main, the Old Post Office was built in 1763, is part of the John Manning property and served as the shop of Daniel Rogers, a master silversmith who later moved to Newport RI. Silver spoons in a collection attributed to Smith have been sold for $400 each. The building was also the post office at one time.
36 North Main: Dr. John Manning built this Federal style house in 1765. He encountered great resistance from town people when he pioneered 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. Doctor Manning also built an unsuccessful wind-driven woolen mill on the site of the present Caldwell Block.
34 North Main: William Pulcifer a dry goods storekeeper built this Federal-era house / storefront in 1836. It is the only brick residence in the Meetinghouse Green historic District.
26 North Main the Agawam House. Nathaniel Treadwell built the second Treadwell Inn here in 1806 and kept his tavern until 1818, after which Moses Treadwell continued the business. For over one hundred years it was the town’s first-class hotel. President Monroe was a guest; Daniel Webster often stayed there while in town for sessions of the local court. In the late 1800′s it was modernized with a mansard roof and other Victorian embellishments and renamed the Agawam house. It closed in the 1920′s and has been an apartment building for many decades.
The Colonial Building at 22 North Main Street was built in 1904 as a commercial attempt by the Feoffees of the Little Neck Trust. One floor of the building was rented by the School Board in 1907 to accommodate the 9th grade.
18 North Main, the Charles Kimball house was built in 1834. Kimball attained honor as a colonel of the militia, a distinguished probate lawyer, and deacon of the Church. He was one of the original trustees of the Ipswich Female Seminary. The house shares a subdued Greek Revival style with the Stephen Coburn house next door. It is remembered as the home of the Manning School master.
The Civil War Monument in the middle of this small triangular green was dedicated in 1871. 375 Ipswich soldiers served in the war, and inscribed on the monument are the names of the 54 who died.
16 North Main the Stephen Coburn house, was built in 1845 in a Greek Revival style by postmaster Stephen Coburn. After the death of his widow it became the Lucy B. Coburn Home for the Elderly, a benevolent institution. In 1997 the house received an honorable mention for the Margaret Conley Historic Preservation award.
12 North Main, Treadwell’s Inn. In 1737, Captain Nathaniel Treadwell opened an inn in this building. John Adams visited Ipswich frequently during the 1770’s in his capacity as a lawyer and always stayed at Captain Nathaniel Treadwell’s inn. The house was formerly called the Christian Wainwright house, which once stood in the small lot just below, and was moved to the corner of Market and Saltonstall Streets, but was later demolished.
8 North Main, the Ebenezer Stanwood house was built in 1747. Ebenezer Stanwood was a peruke – maker (the wigs worn by 17th century gentlemen). A part of the building may have once been Sparke’s Tavern. In the 19th Century a drug store was attached to the front right side of the building. The house was recently restored with a wing added to the rear.
The John Appleton house, 2 North Main Street. Colonel John Appleton was the grandson of settler Samuel Appleton and built this First Period house in 1707 after commanding a regiment in the expedition against the French at Port Royal. He was a leader in the “Andros Rebellion” for which Colonel Appleton and Major Samuel Appleton among others were jailed in Boston. In the 1960’s, the Appleton house was purchased by Exxon so they could build a gas station on the site. The Ipswich Heritage Trust was formed and after intensive efforts saved the house, which is now protected by a covenant. This laid the ground for future covenants and the Ipswich Historical Commission. *
End of Tour