North Main Street starts up the hill directly across from Market Street, bears left at Meetinghouse Green and continues to an abrupt stop at the point where High Street and East Street merge. This neighborhood was once the religious, governmental and commercial center of Ipswich. During the seventeenth century, a meeting house, jail, fort, town pound and stocks were located here. Later the Post Office, Probate Court, Ipswich Female Seminary, Agawam Hotel and several commercial structures surrounded the Green. The most successful businessmen in Ipswich built fine Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian homes on North Main Street.
Boston was only three years old when the Governor and Council of the Massachusetts Bay Colony resolved to “hasten the planting of Agawam.” John Winthrop, Jr., the Governor’s brilliant, eldest son, led the expedition in March of, 1633. The first houses were “wigwams, huts, and hovels” built against the hillside near what is now the Town Wharf. 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 at Meeting House Green. A meeting house was built here by 1636, surrounded by a high wall to protect them from the ever-present danger from Indian attacks. Several churches have stood at this same spot.
During the seventeenth century, a meeting house, jail, fort, town pound and stocks were located here. The town house and court was located near the present site of the Public Library, and lawyers stayed across the Green at the Treadwell Inn.Later the Post Office, Probate Court, Ipswich Female Seminary, Agawam Hotel and several commercial structures surrounded the Green.
The Meeting House Green District includes thirty houses, three churches and the town library which are sited around the steep, rocky Green itself and along Main Street. It encompasses a wide range of architectural styles with approximately half of the structures dating from the eighteenth century and half from the nineteenth.