The South Green dates from 1686, when the town voted that the area be held in common. Cattle were gathered here to be driven to outlying pastures. All adult men reported monthly to the Green for military training. Above all, the South Green was the educational center of Ipswich, and it was long known as the School House Green. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Read more about the South Green National Historic District.
This tour begins at the Ipswich Visitor Center on South Main Street. View a map of the tour at the end of this document.
The Hall Haskell house, 20 South Main Street is the Ipswich Visitor Center. Charles Hall, a mariner bought the land in 1800. It was used as a store below, residence above, and sold to Mary Haskell in 1825. The roof was later changed from hip to gable, and the property became part of the Heard estate. In the 1980′s the house was in bad condition and came close to being demolished by the town. It was saved due to the efforts of Vivian Endicott and other local citizens who raised funds and restored the house. The visitor center is open throughout the summer months.
The Old Town Hall, 30 South Main Street, was built in 1833 to be the home of the Unitarians. They weren’t successful in maintaining their membership, and sold this the first Greek Revival building in Ipswich to the town in 1843 for use as a town hall. In 1866, a piece of land on the south side of the lot was purchased, the Town Hall was moved to the center of the lot and remodeled. The lower floor was raised to a second-story level and a new first floor was built. The building will soon see new use as a condominium.
Use the Crosswalk in front of the Visitor Center or Old Town Hall.
South Main Street: Early Urban Planning: In March 1692 several persons petitioned “to have liberty granted them to build shops upon ye bank by ye river side”. The Selectmen laid out this stretch of land in twenty-three small lots and granted them to as many individuals with the conditions that they not encumber the highway, make provision for drainage under the buildings, that each person “provide paving four foot wide all along before ye said buildings for the convenience of foot travelers, and erect posts to keep horses from spoiling the same”. It was stipulated by the Town that the lots extend no farther into the river than “ye low water mark”, thus giving the view from the river the nickname “Little Venice.”
Upper Falls and Dam: Before dams were built here there was a natural waterfall referred to as the Upper Falls which marked the head of the tide. Millions of herring, shad, salmon and alewife swam upstream each year to their spawning grounds. In 1674 Nathaniel Rust and Samuel Hunt were granted permission to set up a “wear”, stone walls that funneled fish into cages. This third dam on this site was built in 1880 to power the mills that produced Ipswich lace and hosiery.
Ipswich Riverwalk Footbridge: The river bank from the mill dam to where the Choate bridge stands today was marshy past Blacksmith Samuel Ordway’s shop, so early settlers forded the river here, and later the first of several foot bridges was built. A plaque tells the story of the mills, and a planter at the end of this bridge honors Faith Lamb Bryan, wife of the founder of the Quebec Labrador Foundation Atlantic Center for the Environment and a long-time member of the Ipswich Historical Commission.
The Philomen Dean house, 59 South Main is on the right after crossing the footbridge. Philemon Dean was a constable of Ipswich, served under Maj. Samuel Appleton in King Philips War, and died in 1716 long after the death of his wife and one of his twin sons. This Georgian style house was built by his surviving son Philemon Dean Jr. who bought the land from blacksmith Ordway’s widow. Philemon Dean Jr. was one of the petitioners for a new church at the South Green and for the new stone arch Choate Bridge to serve people on that side of the river. The house was sold in 1827 by auction to Theodore Andrews, a lace manufacturer and became known as the “Lace Factory.” A wing on the north side housed the lace machines.
The Samuel Dutch house, 69 South Main Street: In 1723 Samuel Dutch built this house and purchased a 2/3 interest in Nathaniel Saltonstall’s saw mill standing on the south side of the river, plus 2/3 of the dam. Use of the river’s water was conditional, limited to “when the water runs over any part of the dam in said river.” In 1742 He sold his house, twenty-four rods of land and sawmill to inn-holder John Treadwell, who continued the mill operation. The front of the house is a Federal-era addition attached to the original gable-roof 2nd period home.
The Heard house is a Federal style structure built in 1795 by wealthy John Heard. Before the Revolutionary War he had invested in the rum factory on Turkey Shore Road along the river bank where they unloaded barrels of West Indies molasses, and he later helped start the Ipswich Mills. His son Augustine Heard owned clipper ships and competed with those of Salem and Boston in the China trade. Augustine retired to Ipswich and started the Ipswich Manufacturing Company in 1828 with Joseph Farley, building a new dam and the Old Stone Mill. The Heard house was purchased in 1936 by the Ipswich Historical Society and now houses the Ipswich Museum.
A small park sits in the foundation of the Old South Church which burned in 1977. Near this spot lived the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, a solemn and judgmental man who was the minister of the church at Meetinghouse Green for three years. He wrote a code of laws for the colony known as “The Body of Liberties” which contained seeds of the Declaration of Independence. The miller Richard Saltonstall Jr. was also a nearby resident. An important citizen of the town, he denounced the heinous act of stealing black slaves from their homelands as contrary to the law of God and Country.
The Alexander Knight House is a re-creation of an early English-style timber frame house from 1657 as described in Ipswich town records. Alexander Knight and his wife arrived fairly wealthy but their lives took several bad turns including the death of a child in a fire. By 1656 he was indigent, working as an indentured servant. The town took mercy and voted to provide him a piece of land at the bottom of Town Hill where the John Appleton house now stands. This exhibit was built with traditional tools, materials and construction methods of the First Period complete with a stone foundation, timber frame, wattle and daub chimney, water-sawn white oak boards and thatched roof. Jowled posts, girts, and braces were fitted to form an end wall., after which plates, studs, joists, principal rafters and purlins were pegged in place to complete the frame.
The Whipple house is a National Historic Landmark owned by the Ipswich museum. The oldest part of the house dates to 1677 when the military officer and entrepreneur Captain John Whipple constructed a townhouse near the center of Ipswich. The Whipple House has the original frame, large fireplaces, summer beams, wide board floors, and gun-stock posts. Originally at the corner of Market Street and Saltonstall Street, the Ipswich Historical Society saved the house from destruction, restored it, and then moved it over the Choate Bridge to its present location in 1927. Tours of the Whipple House are available by inquiring at the Heard House.
The South Green dates from 1686 when the town voted that the area be held in common. Cattle were gathered here to be driven to outlying common pastures. It was first known as the School House Green; the Grammar School building was at the corner of Poplar and County Roads. The 17th century houses of Nathaniel Ward, schoolmaster Ezekiel Cheever, Reverends John and Nathaniel Rogers and Richard Saltonstall are gone but the Green still retains its historic appearance and is surrounded by Second Period homes.
The Jimmy Appleton memorial at the head of South Green was erected by Francis Appleton in honor of his son who died of leukemia at the age of 16 in 1915. From the time that Samuel Appleton arrived with his family in Ipswich in 1635 a long lineage of family members have served the town. Samuel Appleton the senior was granted land at what is now Appleton Farms on Bay Road, open to the public under the Trustees of Reservations. His son Samuel Appleton commanded a 100-man company in the “King Philip’s War” against the brutal renegade Indian chief Metacomet. Brothers Captain John and Major Samuel Appleton, Rev. John Wise and several other leaders of the town were arrested and held in Boston jails for their opposition to edicts by Governor Andros infringing liberties and creating new taxes.
The Federal-style house at 3 South Village Green was built in 1776 by Aaron Smith, a clockmaker who apprenticed to Richard Manning, an early pioneer in the trade. Aaron Smith was engaged in metal-working before the American Revolution and was therefore prevented from joining the battle at Bunker Hill, since his services were needed for the manufacture of bayonets. Several generations of the family continued in the clock-making trade in Salem. These collector’s items are now valued at $10,000 and higher.
Col. John Baker house, 7 Village Green: Col. John Baker inherited Argilla Farm from his father John but chose to live closer to town. He built this substantial house on the South Green in 1761 on land originally given to Nathaniel Rogers, the second minister in Ipswich. Baker took an active part in the leadership of the town as a justice of the Sessions Court and a Feoffee of the Grammar School. He joined others in speaking out against the British Parliament in steps that led to the Revolutionary War. Col. Baker’s Regiment marched to the battle of Lexington in 1775. The house features spacious rooms, handsome Georgian paneling and has a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission.
The Gables is behind the John Baker House. This fascinating Gothic Revival house was designed by mathematician David Baker in 1846 as an upscale lodging for lawyers in town for the Ipswich court. He was unable to repay the money he borrowed from the Heard family, who took possession and kept it in the family through the early 20th century. Nellie Huckins purchased it from the Heards, and ran the Gables Tea Room from this house.
The Old South Cemetery is between the South Green and the Ipswich River. A walking trail extends down the slope to the river and continues downstream to Sally’s Pond near the Whipple House. The cemetery was used from 1756 until 1939 with a few interments since then. In the late 1790’s Dr. John Manning sold land to the town for the purpose of widening the road for the convenience of the public; eighty eight square rods to enlarge the cemetery; and “from a desire of accommodating the Town with a more convenient training field,” gave the land now known as the South Green for the nominal sum of five shillings. Adult men in the 17th and 18th Centuries reported monthly to the Green for military training.
The Rogers-Brown-Rust House is a short distance past the Green at 83 County Road. Built between 1665 and 1690 the asymmetrical 5 bay façade supports its 17th century dating while its pilastered entry and modillion cornice represent Federal period alterations. The house originally occupied the site where the South Meeting House later stood. Nathaniel Rust was a tanner and glover whose tanning establishment stood on this location. Asa Brown bought the house and moved it to its present location in 1837.
Cross County Road and reverse course on the other side
The Col. Nathaniel Wade house at 88 County Rd. is the oldest house on the South Green, built by Captain Thomas Wade in 1727. His son Nathaniel Wade trained Ipswich soldiers and led them to war at Bunker Hill. The stairs to the attic are worn by the footsteps of Ipswich Minute Men, who adjourned there for refreshment after drilling on the green. Later Colonel Wade was appointed by General Washington to succeed Benedict Arnold when he joined the enemy, and his vigorous action prevented the loss of West Point to the British. Several members of the Wade family built houses in the 18th and 19th Century along this side of the road.
At 84 County Road is the Rev. Moses Welch house, built in 1829. The house has a Federal period doorway with an arched window over the door, and two symmetrical chimneys spaced toward the inside of the house. The bay windows on the front facade are likely a Victorian era addition. The side porch and entry are unusual additions to the style.
At 82 County Road is the Mary Brown – Judith Manning house, built in 1835 with an asymmetrical front facade. The solid fan over the front door is a variation on the fan-shaped windows on other Federal-era homes. Like the houses at 84 and 86 County Road, the two chimneys are symmetrical and spaced approximately 4′ from the gable ends. Mary Brown was one of the petitioners for creation of a church nearby on South Green.
Samuel Wade built the house at 78 County Road in 1831. Wade apprenticed Benjamin Kimball 3rd as a housewright, so it is likely that Wade built this home. The house has its gable end to the road similar to the Greek Revival style; wide corner board are typical of the Federal era, but the three-bay facade suggests Colonial Revival era architecture. Bay windows are an apparent Victorian modification.
6 County Road was the home of Asa Wade, Built in 1831 like the Samuel Wade house next door it also has the gable end facing the street in the Greek Revival style.
The David Giddings house is at 72 County Road on the corner with Argilla Rd. Built in 1828, it has been used as a general store and as a single family home. The four fireplaces, molding and floors are original. David Giddings was born in Ipswich in 1771, a descendant of early settlers. Records indicate he and Bridget Whipple had 8 children and he worked as a tanner. In 1835 a related David Giddings took a stagecoach to Buffalo, boarded a brig to Chicago, then built a primitive boat with a friend and sailed to Green Bay Wisconsin, arriving there with $5 in his pocket. He made his home in Sheboygan, was elected County Judge and to the state legislature. He became wealthy in the sawmill industry and retired on a 500-acre farm in Fon du Lac.
The Calvin Locke House at 68 County Road was built in 1836. The size of the house and he tall Greek columns on the front exceeded his resources such that the house came to be known as “Locke’s Folly.” Locke was an overseer in Augustine Heard’s lace factory, the Ipswich Manufacturing Company. It was incorporated in 1828, but due to financial difficulties was sold to Dane Manufacturing in 1846.
The South Green also had a grocery store for many years. The building at 66 County Road across from the South Green was originally Goodhue’s Grocery, built in 1835. The store was successful, and a wing was added in 1856. In the 20th Century it was called the South Side Store. The store closed in 1980.
The Swasey Tavern, 2 Poplar Street was operated by Major Joseph Swasey. The house and its use as an inn are recorded as early as 1693. President George Washington was offered refreshment there while touring New England. Swasey sold the inn to John Heard, and it became a dormitory for students at the Ipswich Female Seminary, which was located where the Christian Science Church now stands. The Tavern was originally a three-storied hip-roofed mansion, but in the late 19th century it was remodeled with a Second Empire style mansard roof. Swasey was the town clerk and fell dead during Town meeting on April 1, 1816
At 5 Poplar Street, the John Calef house was built in 1688 by Deacon Thomas Knowlton of Summer St, an old world English carpenter. Dr. John Calef was a surgeon in the “Old French War” and the representative from Ipswich to the General Court. When he voted against the town’s wishes to oppose the Townsend Act creating taxes on tea and other items, an angry mob gathered around his house demanding a show of loyalty to the town. He apologized, ” I am heartily sorry for it; and as I gave my vote in the General Assembly on the 30th of June 1768 contrary to the minds of the people, I beg their forgiveness and that the good people of the Province would restore me to their esteem and friendship again.” He was never forgiven. After the war Calef and his family fled to a loyalist community in St. John, New Brunswick, where he worked as surgeon to the British garrison.
The Heard – Lakeman house at 2 Turkey Road, built in 1776 is one of the original 14 houses with Historical Commission covenants. It has fine raised-field paneling and a handsome Georgian stairway with a turned balustrade. A very unique feature is the arched chimney base, over eleven feet in length and supporting two fireplaces on each side. Many generations of the Lakeman family owned and operated sailing vessels from Ipswich and nearby ports
The Burnham-Patch house at 1 Turkey Shore Road has one of the original covenants established with the Ipswich Historical Commission. The house was built by Thomas Burnham in 1730 on the foundation of the earlier house he bought in 1667. Heavy quarter-round chamfered framing timbers in the cellar remain from the earlier structure. The large ell on Poplar Street was added in the early nineteenth-century. Burnham was one of three brothers who came to Ipswich in 1635 from England after being wrecked on the coast of Maine. He built a sawmill, was a town selectman and served as Deputy to the General Court from 1683-85. From 1825 to 1847 the house served as a tavern under the ownership of Samuel Day.
Reverse and take a right on County Street
For 200 years the timber frame Choate – Dodge house , formerly #16 Elm St., stood near the corner of County Street. The location is now the police station parking lot. In 1963 the town planned to demolish the empty house and replace it with a transformer station. Members of the Ipswich Historical Society saved it from the bulldozer on the day it was scheduled for demolition. The house was dismantled, trucked to Washington and became the centerpiece of “Within These Walls” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
The Benjamin Grant house, 47 County Street was built in 1735. This house has a large center chimney, one room deep front section with a rear lean-to. The 5 bay façade is slightly asymmetrical, typical of earlier period half houses that have been doubled to appear Georgian. In 1863 owner Joseph Ross purchased nearby land along the “lower falls” and erected a water-powered yarn mill, later adding machinery for the production of hosiery and knitting. Ross became wealthy and purchased the old Pillow Lace Factory site on High Street, converting it into the “Ross Mansion.”
Turn left on Elm Street to South Main Street. Although not officially part of the South Green Historic District, the following locations are included in this tour.
The Sherborne Wilson house built in 1685 sits just before the Choate Bridge at 4 South Main Street. Sherborne Wilson apprenticed as a carpenter. Because of the importance of his barrels, he was allowed to cut large amounts of white oak from the town commons. Having some money in his family, Wilson sold his first home and built this one by the river. It is said that his shop was the starting point for Thomas Dennis who became famous for his cabinetry and woodworking.
The Choate Bridge is the oldest double stone arch bridge in America, built in 1764, designed and supervised by Colonel John Choate. A popular tale is that his horse was tethered nearby so that if the bridge collapsed when the wooden arches were removed he might mount and ride out of town, probably untrue. Col. Choate was one of the Judges of the General Sessions Court. After his death, the Court ordered that “Choate Bridge” be engraved on the corner stone. The bridge was widened in 1838 and underwent restoration in 1989.
The Manning-Souther house at 31 South Main Street was moved here from its original site across from the Old Town Hall, in order to build the town’s first automobile dealership. The old Timothy Souther house which had stood next to the Choate Bridge was taken down. Dr. Joseph Manning graduated at Harvard College in 1725 and returned to his native town where he served for more than 50 years as a physician. He was the father of the legendary Dr. John Manning, whose home on North Main Street also still stands.
The former Baker’s Clothing Store at 37 South Main Street was built in 1828 and has a combination of Italianate and Greek Revival elements. The other Baker’s Store building next to the Choate Bridge burned after the Mother’s Day storm of 2006. The Joseph Manning house next to it was torn down early in the 20th Century to build the town’s first automobile sales and repair buildings, still standing. This building now houses Fiske and Freeman Fine and Early Antiques. Fiske is also the editor-in-chief of the New England Antiques Journal.
Return to the Hall Haskell house. Tour and interactive map produced by Gordon Harris, 2013