Treadwell's Inn, 12 N. Main St., Ipswich

12 North Main Street, Treadwell’s Inn (1737)

Written history and oral traditions indicate that the house at 12 North Main Street was built in 1737 for Captain Nathaniel Treadwell “inn holder” (1700 – 1777). Treadwell bequeathed his “tavern house” to his son Jacob, who continued the business. The location was known as “the old tavern lot” and adjoined the site of the historic 17th Century Spark’s Tavern. William White sold two acres here with “house, barn, orchard, garden and paddock or inclosure of earable land adjoyning” to John Spark (aka Sparke, Sparks), “Biskett Baker” Feb. 15, 1671 (Ips. Deeds 3: 216). The large lot included John and Mary Sparks’ home to the south, and Spark’s “biskett bakery.”

Thomas Franklin Waters wrote a history of this house in his book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

“Jacob Treadwell inherited from his father, Nathaniel, and his administrator sold to Moses Treadwell, the house and land, “being all that said deceased owned in that place, commonly called the old Tavern lot.” The executors of the Moses Treadwell estate sold the house and land to Joseph Baker of Boston. The heirs of Joseph Baker sold to Mrs. Lizzie G. Hayes (1176. 159), Mrs. Hayes to George K Dodge, July 2, 1888 (1227: 508); Dodge to Mrs. Lois Hardy, May 4, 1897 (1514 11), who transferred to Miss Lucy Slade Lord, the present owner ( in 1910).”

In the late 17th Century, the notable Col. John Wainwright had gained possession of several lots on North Main Street. Waters wrote again about Treadwell’s Inn in Volume II:

“The Court Record of March, 1693, bears the entry, “John Sparks, ye Tavern keeper in Ipswich, having laid down his license and ye house being come, as is said into ye hands of Mr. John Wainwright, license is granted for keeping of a tavern there to any sober man whom Mr. Wainwright may secure. John Rogers, the saddler, was licensed to sell drink and keep a public house in 1696 and Mr. Wainwright was ordered at the same Court, to procure a suitable tenant, to live in the house “where John Rogers is now an innholder.” His inn was called “The Black Horse.” Thomas Smith, Inn-holder, kept a public house nearby in 1707, which came later to John Smith, “the Tavemer”, and in 1737 Nathaniel Treadwell opened his inn, perhaps in the same house now owned and occupied by Miss Lucy Slade Lord.”

Fireplace door manufactured by George Ropes of Portland
Cast-iron door in a fireplace wall, Nathaniel Treadwell house

Augustine Caldwell and Arthur Wesley Dow wrote in the Ipswich Antiquarian Papers that use of the house as a tavern predates Nathaniel Treadwell:

“June 8, 1671: Upon request of some of the inhabitants of this Towne to the Selectmen for John Sparke to have liberty to draw beere of a penny a quart to such as may have need to make use of it. The Selectmen doth Grant him license so to do, provided he observes the orders of the general court not at any time to entertaine any inhabitants n the night, nor suffer any person to bring liquors to drink in his or wine.” The Sparke-Inn still stands–the house of the late Mary Baker. It continued as an Inn till after the Revolution. In Sewall’s day it was the Sparke then Rogers house; In John Adams’ day it was the Treadwell.”

  • The 1872 Ipswich map clearly identifies 12 North Main as the home of Mary Baker.
  • The 1832 map identifies the house at 12 North Main as “Moses Treadwell.” and the house immediately to the north, no longer standing, as “Rogers,” possibly where John Rogers kept a public house in 1696.

Caldwell wrote specifically about Treadwell’s Inn:

“Joseph Baker, 1784-1846: Joseph Baker, son of Samuel and Sarah (Holland) Baker, was born in Ipswich, Feb. 29, 1784 and died in Ipswich, March, 1846. He began his mercantile career in Salem, where lie married Mrs. Anna (Stewart) Felt. He removed to Boston in 1815. After a successful business life he returned to his native town, and purchased the house near the Soldiers’ Monument — known as the old Treadwell Tavern. It is perhaps the most historic building in town. It was the principle Ipswich Inn for many generations. Chief Justice Sewall mentions it in his Diary. John Adams, before the Revolution, writes quaintly of the Treadwells who were then host and hostess. Madame Treadwell was a descendant of Gov. Endicott and a convert of Whitfield. She had a copy of Gov. Endicott’s portrait.”

Roof framing in the front, older section of the house shows that it once suffered a fire.
Bridled rafters
Bridled rafters with tenon, ridge beam and purlins in the house at 12 North Main, viewed from attic access in original room. The left side is the front, older section of roof. The right is the elongated roof of the rear section.
Extended roof in 18th Century house
Unusual joinery on the front roof at the intersection of a principal rafter, common purlin, ceiling joist, and what appears to be the remnants of a diagonal brace.
The rear half of the roof was replaced in the 18th Century in order to lengthen the house as a saltbox. The rafters and purlins are less massive than those in the front, indicating changes in roof construction over a period of time.

From “Old Homes of Ipswich,” 250th Anniversary Exercises, 1834: “The first tavern which seems to have found special place in records is the Sparke Inn of 1671. We hear first of Sparke as the tenant of Deputy Thomas Bishop who lived on the Green. John Sparke was succeeded by Mr. Rogers, who had the Sign of the Black Horse. Mr. Crompton followed Rogers. Next we find the name of Taverner Smith who moved into Ipswich from Boxford, and later Taverner Treadwell who is quaintly described in the diary of President John Adams, as Sparke Rogers and Crompton are alluded to in the Judge Sewall Diary. This old Treadwell Inn is now known as the residence of the late Joseph Baker and wife and of his sister Mary who in her young womanhood taught children their ABC’s and young misses how to write and work samplers.”

In the 1980s this house was incorrectly identified on the MACRIS site of the Massachusetts Historical Commission as the Christian Wainwright House: “Originally one room deep, it was later enlarged to the rear, under a raised and lengthened rear roof. Notable second period features include four panel doors, boxed summer beam construction, and a wide muntin window in the ell. The house underwent additional changes in the mid-19th century and the original central chimney was removed.”

12 North Main St. is the large white house in this 19th Century photo

Nathaniel and Hannah Treadwell

Nathaniel Treadwell was born in Ipswich, September 10, 1700 and died in Ipswich January 31, 1777. His first wife Mercy died in 1747. His second wife Hannah died July 6, 1792 aged 87 years. He was a captain in the militia and styled gentleman but was known as Landlord Treadwell through keeping the Inn at Ipswich. His wife Hannah was known as Landlady Treadwell. In 1737, Captain Nathaniel Treadwell “inn holder” (1700 – 1777) opened this inn. Treadwell bequeathed his “tavern house” to his son Jacob, who continued the business.

Nathaniel and Hannah Treadwell are buried at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich.

Gravestone of Nathaniel Treadwell
D -3 “Erected in memory of Cap’. Nathaniel Treadwell who was born Sep’. 10′, 1700, and having acquir’d and supported the Character, of a prudent upright and serious Christian, died Feb’y. the 1st, 1777, Aged 77 years. Nor wealth, nor Friends, nor Piety can save, One mortal from the all-devouring Grave. Yet Faith and hope in Christ who rose, may sing, Grave! where’s thy Conquest! where Death thy Sting.” (Photo courtesy of Rachel Meyer)
D-7 “In memory of Mrs. Hannah Treadwell, relect of Cap’. Nathaniel Treadwell, who died July 6th, 1792, Aged 87 years. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; for they rest from their labours and their works do follow them.”

John Adams’ visits to Treadwell’s

John Adams visited Ipswich frequently during the 1770’s in his capacity as a lawyer and always stopped at Captain Nathaniel Treadwell’s inn. Thomas Franklin Waters recorded Adams’ allusions to the landlord and other guests at Nathaniel Treadwell’s Inn in his book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Woodcut of John Adams

“June 18. 1770 : “Rode with Mr. Barrell to Ipswich, and put up at Treadwell’s. Every object recalls the subject of grief. Barrell, all the way to Ipswich, was like the turtle bemoaning the loss of his mate. “Fine season and beautiful scenes, but they did not charm him as they used to. He had often rode this way a courting with infinite pleasure,” ‘I can’t realize that she has left me forever. When she was well, I often thought I could realize the loss of her, but I was mistaken; I had no idea of it.’ In short, this man’s mournings have melted and softened me beyond measure”

“June 19, 1770, Tuesday morning: “Rambled with Kent ’round Landlord Treadwell’s pastures to see how our horses fared. We found them in the grass up to their eyes–excellent pastures. This hill, on which stands the meeting-house and courthouse, is a fine elevation, and we have here a fine air and the pleasant prospect of the winding river at the foot of the hill.” He “drank balm tea at Treadwell’s” on June 21.

Again on June 22, 1771, he was at Court and spent a week at Treadwell’s Inn.

June 22, 1771, Saturday: “Spent this week at Ipswich, in the usual labors and drudgery of attendance upon court. Boarded at Treadwell’s; have had no time to write. Landlord and landlady are some of the grandest people alive; landlady is the great-granddaughter of Governor Endicott, and has all the great notions of high family that you find in Winslows, Hutchinsons, Quincys, Saltonstalls, Chandlers, Leonards, Otises and as you might find with more propriety in the Winthrops. Yet she is cautious and modest about discovering it. She is a new light; continually canting and whining in a religious strain. The Governor was uncommonly strict and devout, eminently so in his day; and his great, great-granddaughter hopes to keep up the honor of the family in hers, and distinguish herself among her contemporaries as much.

Thus for landlady. As to landlord, he is as happy, and as big, as proud, as conceited as any nobleman in England; always calm and good-natured and lazy ; but the contemplation of his farm and his sons and his house and pastures and cows, his sound judgment, as he thinks, and his great holiness, as well as that of his wife, keep him as erect in his thoughts as a noble or a prince. Indeed, the more I consider of mankind, the more I see that every man seriously and in his conscience believes himself the wisest, brightest, best, happiest, etc of all mankind. I went this evening, spent an hour and took a pipe with Judge Trowbridge at his lodgings.”

July 2, Tuesday: “This has been the most flat, insipid, spiritless, tasteless journey that ever I took, especially from Ipswich. I have neither had business, nor amusement, nor conversation; it has been a moping, melancholy journey upon the whole. I slumber and mope away the day. Tyng, Tyler, Sewall, Lowell, Jarvis, were all characters which might have afforded me entertainment, perhaps instruction, if I had been possessed of spirits to enjoy it.”

Mr. Adams left Boston again on March 28, 1774, and “rode with brother Josiah Quincy to Ipswich Court, arriving on Tuesday.

March 29, 1774: “Put up at the old place, Treadwell’s. The old lady has got a new copy of her great-grandfather, Governor Endicott’s picture hung up in the house. The old gentleman is afraid they will repeal the excise upon tea, and then that we shall have it plenty; wishes they would double the duty, and then we should never have any more.”

June 19. “Tuesday morning. Rambled with Kent round Landlord Treadwell’s pastures, to see how our horses fared. We found them in the grass up to their eyes;—excellent pastures. This hill, on which stand the meeting-house and court-house, is a fine elevation, and we have here a fine air, and the pleasant prospect of the winding river at the foot of the hill.”

June 30. Friday. “Began my journey to Falmouth in Casco Bay…. Oated my horse, and drank balm tea at Treadwell’s in Ipswich, where I found Brother Porter, and chatted with him half an hour, then rode to Rowley, and lodged at Captain Jewett’s. Jewett “had rather the House should sit all the year round, than give up an atom of right or privilege.”

In his visits to the Ipswich Court during 1776, Adams wrote to Abigail of his concerns about the future:

June 20, 1774, Monday. “At Piemont’s, in Danvers; bound to Ipswich. There is a new and a grand scene open before me; a Congress. This will be an assembly of the wisest men upon the continent, who are Americans in principle, that is, against the taxation of Americans by authority of Parliament. I feel myself unequal to this business. A more extensive knowledge of the realm, the colonies, and of commerce, as well as of law and policy, is necessary, than I am master of. What can be done? Will it be expedient to propose an annual congress of committees? to petition? Will it do to petition at all?—to the King? to the Lords? to the Commons? What will such consultations avail? Deliberations alone will not do. We must petition or recommend to the Assemblies to petition..”

June 25, 1774, Saturday. “Since the (Ipswich) Court adjourned without day this afternoon, I have taken a long walk through the Neck, as they call it, a fine tract of land in a general field. Corn, rye, grass, interspersed in great perfection this fine season. I wander alone and ponder. I muse, I mope, I ruminate. I am often in reveries and brown studies. The objects before me are too grand and multifarious for my comprehension. We have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, in education, in travel, in fortune, in every thing. I feel unutterable anxiety. God grant us wisdom and fortitude! Should the opposition be suppressed, should this country submit, what infamy and ruin! God forbid. Death in any form is less terrible!


Treadwell's Inn, 12 N. Main St., Ipswich
Treadwell’s Inn, 12 N. Main St.

Christian Wainwright

An Historical Commission sign that formerly hung on the front of the house identified this as the home of Christian Wainwright, providing the following information on the MACRIS site: “Christian Wainwright bought this lot in 1741 (from Daniel Tilton, bounded southeasterly by country road 53 ft., bounded northeasterly by Nathaniel Treadwell, 80:295) and built the present house.” It was being confused with a house that was moved from its location next door and no longer stands. The deed history of the Christian Wainwright house was researched by Thomas Franklin Waters in his book, Ipswich in the Mass. Bay Colony, vol. I, p. 347” (bullet points added):

  • “Thus the southwest limit of the original Wm. Fuller grant is determined, and the location of the John Sparks dwelling, which disappeared when Ebenezer Stanwood built the present dwelling (8 North Main).
  • Before Ebenezer Smith sold part of his house to Stanwood, he had sold a lot with fifty feet frontage, to Daniel Tilton, March 1, 1732-3 (68: 149)
  • Tilton sold to Christian Wainwright, June 2, 1741 (“bounded southeasterly by country road 53 ft., bounded northeasterly by Nathaniel Treadwell, 80:295)
  • In 1748 (June 22), this lot with a house was conveyed by Christian Wainwright, widow of John, to Daniel Staniford, Nathaniel Treadwell, abutting on the northeast.”
  • Dummer Jewett purchased from the estate of Staniford.
  • Thomas Manning, guardian of the widow, Mary Thorndike, sold the house and land to Jacob Lord, Oct. 16, 1820;
  • Lord to Capt. Wm. Haskell in 1826;
  • Haskell to Samuel N. Baker, in 1832 ; (see map below)
  • Baker to the widows, Hannah and Ann Brown, Aug. 21, 1837 (302: 24) ;
  • and they, to Joseph Baker, April 29, 1845. Mr. Baker owned the Treadwell property adjoining.
  • He sold the house, which occupied the lot, and it was removed to the corner of Market and Saltonstall Streets. It was torn down by the Historical Society, after the corner was purchased.”

The Christian Wainwright house was moved to Market Street, and no longer stands. It would have between #8 and #12 North Main on a small parcel of land with frontage measuring 50 ft.

Location of the Christian Wainwright house before it was moved to Market St.
Location of the Christian Wainwright house in the 1832 Ipswich map, is shown as the S. N. Baker House. According to Thomas Franklin Waters, it was moved to Market St. in 1845 by Joseph Baker. The Moses Treadwell house in the map may have been the original Treadwell’s Inn. The Wm. Heard house sat at the location of the Tyler Building. Central street did not yet exist. The Widow Daniel Rogers lived in the house at 8 North Main St. A cart path beside that house connected to Loney’s Lane between #8 and #12 (the S.N. Baker house). A 50 ft. lot, with an embankment is empty beside the S.N. Baker house at the present 12 North Main Street, and may have once been the site of the Christian Wainwright house.

Christian was the widow of John Wainwright, son of Col. John Wainwright Senior, a man of great wealth who owned a large estate along East Street down to the wharf. He expanded his estate in 1710 by purchasing property that had passed from one of the early settlers, Thomas Treadwell to his son Nathaniel. It was Colonel Wainwright’s will that the estate should remain in the family forever.

John Wainwright Jr. died at age 49 and left his wife Christian with three children. The great fortune left by the senior Colonel Wainwright had been greatly reduced. Her home appears to have been between the house at 12 North Main Street and the house at 6-8 North Main in 1741. She petitioned the General Court in 1743 to take off the entail imposed in the Colonel’s will so that the lands on Jeffreys Neck might be sold to pay for the children’s’ education. The Court granted the petition. Seven years later she sold the house to Daniel Staniford. Thus the wealthy Colonel Wainwright’s estate was dissolved.

Thomas Franklin Waters relates that in 1845, Joseph Baker bought the house that Christian Wainwright had built and moved it in order to enlarge his own property, described as being the historic old Treadwell Tavern: “Capt. Wm. Haskell (sold) to Samuel N. Baker, in 1832….He sold the house to the widows, Hannah and Ann Brown, Aug. 21, 1837 (302: 24) ; and they, to Joseph Baker, April 29, 1845. Mr. Baker owned the Treadwell property adjoining. He sold the house, which occupied the lot, and it was removed to the corner of Market and Saltonstall Sts. It was torn down by the Historical Society, after the corner was purchased.”

Closeup of N. Main Street from the 1856 map. This indicates the Joseph Baker house is 12 North Main, next to the Coburn house, which is the Kaede Bed and Breakfast. The Christian Wainwright house, which he moved sometime after 1845, would have been at the approximate location of the lane between J. Baker and T. Lord.

On page 344, Volume 1 of Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Waters wrote an account of properties that came to be part of the Wainwright lot.

“An ancient footway led from Scott’s Lane across his rear land, up the hill to Loney ‘s Lane. He obstructed this way and forbade travel and the matter was carried to Court. A rude map of the region was drawn and presented to the magistrates in 1717. The original has escaped destruction…and a note appended to this map states that the Perkins lot included the original Proctor and Osgood lots. Dr. John Perkins, son and heir of Capt. Beamsley, sold his estate, reserving an eighth of an acre on Col. Appleton’s line, to John Wainwright, April 13, 1725 (49: 231). This small lot, with other property, the Doctor then a resident of Boston, sold to his son. Dr. Nathaniel Perkins, also of Boston, Dec. 1, 1740 (80: 302).” (See map below)

Screenshot from a 1717 hand-drawn map indicating the location of houses in this vicinity of North Main Street. Taverner Smith’s house would be either # 6-8 or #12 North Main St. Pinder’s Lane is now called Loney’s Lane, and connects to Warren St.
The Christian Wainwright house on Saltonstall St.
Waters wrote that the Christian Wainwright house was moved to Market Street, and was later demolished by the Ipswich Historical Society in order to provided a better view of the Whipple House, which at that time sat behind it. The Whipple House was moved to the South Green in the early 20th Century.

The Agawam House

The former Agawam House on North Main was also once called “Treadwell’s Inn.” Many generations of the Treadwell family had a son named Nathaniel. Nathaniel Treadwell 3rd “innkeeper” bought a house and land from John Hodgkins, Jr. in 1806, built and kept his tavern there until 1818, then sold to Moses Treadwell (son of Captain Nathaniel Treadwell) who continued the business until his death in 1823. The 1806 building was a federal-style structure, but in 1872 it was enlarged and remodeled by Parker Spinney with a 2nd Empire Victorian roof, generous porches and renamed the Agawam House. The building is now unrecognizable, covered in vinyl siding.

Closeup from 1910 Ipswich map shows the home of L. S. Lord, 12 North Main Street. Thomas Franklin Waters noted that Spark’s Tavern was on or near this location.

It was traditionally believed that Treadwell’s Inn and the historic Spark’s Tavern were the same building, but it now seems clear that Treadwell’s was constructed about 50 years later. The location of Spark’s Tavern was probably in the rear of the lot at 12 N. Main St. where it abutted the property of John Sparks and his wife Mary.


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