The Samuel Kinsman house at 53 Argilla Road appears as a late Georgian / early Federal period home, generally dated at 1750 with a 1777 wing on the east end. The front rooms in the main house have original interior sliding shutters. The dining room features exposed beams that are part of the 1750 post and beam structure. In the basement is a massive arched brick chimney base that supports 6 brick fireplaces.
First Period elements
The large room in the northwest corner features 25 hand-planed unpainted pine panels darkened by years of exposure to smoke from the massive brick fireplace.Wide pine floors, oak gunstock corner posts and a massive hand-planed summer beam may be original First Period elements from a pre-existing home that were at some point decoratively incorporated into this building. The summer beam is transverse, but does not end at the chimney masonry as was often the case. Although large First and early Second Period homes in Ipswich often have within them a smaller structure which was added to over the years, it appears that these elements were not original to this house. Unlike most First Period homes, the ceiling that the summer beam supports has been plastered. What we do not know is where these first period elements originated.
Samuel Kinsman was born in 1747 and died in 1806. Although the house is named for him, he is not the builder of the main house dated 1750. Samuel Kinsman received the 53 Argilla property in a bequest from his father Capt. John Kinsman, who married Hannah Burnham in 1733. Hannah was the daughter of James Burnham Jr. son of James Burnham, whose father was the settler Thomas Burnham. John Kinsman bought the property that now includes 53 Argilla Rd. from James Burnham Jr. The Burnhams and Kinsmans were among the original settlers of Ipswich.
Just down the road from 53 Argilla Road at 43 Argilla is the Thomas Burnham house, built in 1653 on land sold to him by early settler George Giddings who had been granted a large section of property on Argilla Road. Thomas Burnham bequeathed his house and some land to his oldest son Thomas, and to his s younger son James Burnham he bequeathed the remainder of the property. James Burnham was born in 1650 and died in 1709. Another of the old settlers, Samuel Dodd on March 6, 1677 conveyed to James Burnham a house and 12 acres formerly owned by George Giddings. The Dodd land extended to the “Gloucester road “and was bounded on one side by Heartbreak Road. This corresponds roughly to the location of 53 Argilla Road, the address of the “Samuel Kinsman House” .
This suggests that after James Burnham purchased this property in 1677 he built a house at this location. James Burnham Sr. gave his son James “The house I now live in…” in a deed of January 25, 1719. In 1779 Moses Potter sold to Samuel Kinsman 37 acres of upland and meadow, with a dwelling, barn and well, “reserving a way through the premises where the way formerly went for Thomas Burnham and Capt John Kinsman.” This is close to the date of the 1777 wing on the eastern end. The post and beam wing has rough ceiling beams that are as low as 6′ 4″. The second floor above it drops down several inches from the main house. The horizontal tie beam where the wing connects to the main house was cut to accommodate a doorway, suggesting that this wing may have been moved to this location and added on.
More research will be needed to understand how and when the First Period elements ended up in this Georgian / Federal era home and whether this house might have elements of the James Burnham home that was apparently at this location. Less than 300 First Period homes still stand in the Eastern US today, and 59 of them are in Ipswich. The owner of this home has expressed a desire to protect its historic character. Regardless of whether the First Period elements are original, this house apparently offers a fascinating study of early Ipswich architecture.
Family history is from Thomas Franklin Waters’ “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony,” his booklet about Argilla Road and his book “Candlewood, An Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich with Genealogies of John Brown, William Fellows, Robert Kinsman” Proceedings of the Ipswich Historical Society, Dec. 1, 1908, ( Salem, Mass.: Salem Press, 1909)”.