The Nathaniel Wade House at 88 County Road in Ipswich is one of the original 16 houses that have preservation agreements (“covenants”) with the Ipswich Historical Commission. The house was built in 1727 by Captain Thomas Wade. The Wade brothers, Jonathan and Thomas, owned nearly, if not all, the land in the area from Argilla Road to the intersection of Essex Road and County Road, known then as “Parting Paths.” Family members Jessie Wade, Asa Wade, Samuel Wade, and Capt. William Wade also built houses along this stretch of County Road.
Thomas Wade’s son Nathaniel Wade was educated in the one room school house at what was then known as School House Green. At 26 years of age he was a member of the militia and drilled the “Ipswich Minute Men” on the South Green across from this house. On Dec 19, 1774, the Town appointed its Committee to draw up a contract for men to sign, which reported its scale of wages and form of contract on Jan. 3, 1775. Capt Wade’s company of minute men signed their contract on January 24:
“We, whose Names are hereunto Subscribed, do voluntarily enlist ourselves, as Minute Men, to be ready for Military operation, upon the shortest notice. And we hereby promise & engage, that we will immediately, each of us, provide for & equip himself with an effective Fire Arm, Bayonet, Pouch, Knapsack, & Thirty round of Cartridges ready made. And that we may obtain the skill of compleat Soldiers, We promise to convene for exercise in the Art Military, at least twice every week; and oftener if our officers shall think necessary.” (Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony)
After hostilities began in 1775, he led his unit in pursuit of British soldiers retreating from the battles of Concord and Lexington. Two months later they fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. During the war he commanded troops throughout the campaign in Rhode Island and at Long Island, Harlem, and White Plains.
On September 25, 1780, Wade received an urgent correspondence from General George Washington, that he take command at West Point:
“Sir, “General Arnold is gone to the enemy…From this circumstance, and Colonel Lamb’s being detached on some business, the command of the garrison, for the present, devolves on you. I request you will be as vigilant as possible; and, as the enemy may have it in contemplation to attempt some enterprise, even to-night, against these posts, I wish you to make, immediately after the receipt of this, the best disposition you can of your force, so as to have a proportion of men in each work on the west side of the river. You will see or hear from me further tomorrow. I am, Sir, your most observant servant George Washington.”
Headquarters, Robinson’s House, 25 September, 1780. To Col. Nathaniel Wade at West Point
In 1789 after Washington had become President he visited New England and passed through Ipswich. Colonel Wade had a part in welcoming him at the Swasey Tavern, where Washington stopped for a “cold collation.” In 1824 Col. Wade received his old friend, Lafayette at the same spot when he returned to Ipswich for a visit. Col. Nathaniel Wade died on October 26, 1826, at 76 years of age.
The inscription on Nathaniel Wade’s gravestone in the cemetery across the street reads as follows:
“Erected to the memory of Col Nathaniel Wade who died Oct 26 1826 aged 77. A distinguished soldier of the Revolution. He commenced his career of Military service in the Battle of Bunker Hill as Capt. of the company of Minute Men, raised in this town and was afterwards in the actions of Long Island Haerlem and the White Plains. Advanced to the rank of Colonel in the Continental Army, he was actively engaged in the whole campaign at Rhode Island. After the establishment of National Independence he was successively called to many important civil offices the duties of which he performed with scrupulous fidelity. To a remarkable equanimity and mildness of temper he united an intrepidity which no danger could subdue. Kind and affectionate, he possessed the Love Of his Friends. Just, open and sincere, he won the respect esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens.”
The slave “Pomp” is said to have at one time been a servant in the Wade family and had a room in the attic. He was tried and found guilty of murdering Capt. Furbush of Andover on Aug. 6, 1795. On the day of his execution he was taken to the “Gallows Lot” near the intersection of the Rowley Road and Mile Lane (location of the Clam Box), and hanged.
This house is described in the book by the Ipswich Historical Commission, Something to Preserve.” Colonel Wade’s home, now a large structure of many rooms, has seen many renovations which have left little trace of the original floor plan. It has a magnificent paneled fireplace wall and paneled doors in the grand room on the first floor.
In the second-floor bedroom there is a fine paneled fireplace wall with molding around the fireplace opening. The attic contains unusual ridge rafters and clear evidence that the roof was raised some years after the original house was built.
In 1994 the Ipswich Historical Commission awarded the owners who painstakingly preserved the house with the Mary P. Conley award.
Col. Nathaniel Wade House Preservation Agreement
This house is protected by a Preservation Agreement which includes:
- Front and side facades of the entire structure facing County Rd.
- Central frame including primary and secondary members
- Wooden architectural elements, including if any, paneling, mantelpieces, doors, and other molded detail on the inside wall of the first floor right front corner room, and on the inside wall of the second floor right rear room of the entire structure facing County Rd.