42 Heartbreak Road, the Thomas Low house (1684)


The first parts of this house at 42 Heartbreak Road were built before 1684 by Thomas Low Sr. or by his son John Low. The house is first mentioned in a 1708 deed when it was transferred from John Low and his wife Sarah Thorndike to their son Thorndike Low.

This house is an example of a First Period home, with an overhang at the gable end, formed with molded end girts like those that are on the side of the Whipple House, further decorated with shadow-molded sheathing and applied dentils above the projecting girt. The hewn overhang may be related to the plank walling system. The house wаs completely restyled during the Federalist period. The combined evidence of the very wide chimney bay, wide summer beam boxes and the overhangs at the gable ends and the roof framing make it virtually certain that the concealed structure (and possibly finish) of the rest of the house is First Period in origin.

The only First Period features currently in the house are a single chimney post with crude chamfer and the collar beams in the attic (survey data indicates collar beams disappear as a feature of the roof framing of one room deep houses before the end of the First Period). Chimney bay dimensions, size of summer beam boxes, steep roof pitch and overhangs at the gable end in combination also indicate First Period construction.

The yard has a rare outside stone and brick vault cellar, similar to the vaulted chimney supports found in houses beginning around 1700.

Thomas Low House, 42 Heartbreak Road, Ipswich MA


Entrance to the root cellar at 42 Heartbreak Rd.



Root cellar at 42 Heartbreak Rd.

Thomas Low Sr. came to New England with the Rogers’ party from Gravesend, England in 1636, and arrived at Ipswich in 1637. He first settled in Chebacco Parish, where he was a malster (malted grains to make beer and spirits). His son Deacon Thomas Low (1631-1712) remained in Chebacco and is buried there in the Old Burying Ground. Later in life Thomas Low Sr. moved to this property on Heartbreak Road in the “Candlewood Neighborhood” in Ipswich, also known as “The South Eighth.”

His will dated 20 Apr. 1677, (Essex Probate Files 17242) mentions wife Susanna and children John, Thomas, Margaret and Sarah and grand-children Thomas Low, Margaret Davisson, Sarah Safford and Sarah Low:

“I give & bequeath unto Susannah my Loving wife what goods she brought with her and also I give her the use of that room which I lye in & the free use of those things that are in it and also the use of one cow which she liketh best & will is that my Sonne John shall maintain it wintere & summer & also my will is that if the Cow come to any casuality hee shall find her another Cow & maintain it likewise as beforesaid.

Also I give unto my wife one-fourth part of her labor that she hath spunn both Lening & wollen & also she shall have her beere as she hath now & also free use of the fire: & also John shall reare her one Sheoate yearly for sume meate for her & also a little ground to sow half a peck of flax seede yearly. And also to give unto her thirty shillings yearly to be paid by my executor in such things as she shall stand in need of during her natural life.

Moreover I give unto my loving wife five ponds to dispose of as she shall thinke good, and my will is that in case my wife shall thinke meete to remove from my sonne John, then my will is that John Low pay or cause to be paid to her forty shillings yearly & every yeare during her natural life in such pay as she needeth. And I also give her the Cowe to be her owne & John to send the pay to Boston or CharlesTown.”

To John: “all my housing and all my lands in Ipswich, both meadow and upland, including half the house and half barn, the malt house and the things belonging to it.” Among other goods, one sword, belt, powder, and bullets.”

To son Thomas (living in Chebacco) he gave £30, to daughter Margaret £40 and to daughter Sarah £40, to be paid within two years of his death. To grandchildren Thomas Low £5, Margaret Davison £5, Sarah Safford £5, and Sarah Low £5, to be paid when they were twenty-one or on their marriage days. The estate totaled £290.11 and the residue went to his son John, executor. (Probate Records of Essex County).


Thomas Low house, from the MACRIS site

Thomas Low house, from the MACRIS site

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