Turkey Shore, a Colonial and Victorian neighborhood


Early land grants on Turkey Shore, from the book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

From the earliest times, the land along the south side of the riverbank was known as Turkey Shore, but no one knows why. In the mid-19th Century, it was given the “more proper” name of Prospect Street, but by the 20th Century it had regained its colorful original name.

When Roger Preston arrived in Ipswich, he first purchased a lot along the river near what is now the intersection of Turkey Shore and Labor in Vain roads at or near where the Nathaniel Hodgkins house still stands. Thomas Franklin Waters noted that “evidently the neighborhood did not prove popular” and by 1644 every lot had been transferred. The corner of Poplar Street, and the section of Turkey Shore Rd. from Green St. to Labor in Vain have houses dating to the 17th and 18th Centuries. In the early years, the land from Poplar to Green Streets along the hillside was farmland, originally known as “Appleton’s Lot,” although it seemed to change hands frequently. In 1770, John Heard’s rum distillery, which later became a tannery, was constructed near the intersection with Poplar Street. Hunt’s Wharf, later known as Dodge Wharf, was nearby.

Very few houses are shown in the stretch between Poplar and Green Streets in the 1884 Ipswich map. Land on the hillside and along the river bank began to be sold for development at about the time that ships quit coming into the cove to the industries on County Street/ The Green St. bridge was constructed in 1880 as a response to demands from the residents on Turkey Shore, and wholesale development of a late Victorian neighborhood followed. Many of the current houses appear in the 1893 Birdseye map of Ipswich; construction of the new Turkey Shore neighborhood was almost complete in the 1910 village map.


Turkey Shore, Woods Lane and Labor in Vain Rd. are shown on the opposite side of the River from the old Green Street Jail in this closeup from the 1893 Ipswich Birdseye map.

Photo circa 1900 of Turkey Shore from Water Street by Arthur Wesley Dow.

Photo of Turkey Shore from Water Street by Arthur Wesley Dow, around the year 1900


Turkey Shore, photo taken by Edward Darling from the roof of the Ipswich Female Seminary on North Main Street, circa 1900. The large building was housing for workers at the County Street mills. A similar mill housing building still stands near the bridge. To the right of it are the tannery, shown in the 1872 Ipswich map. In the 1832 Ipswich map, the buildings are G. W. Heard’s house and distillery. The houses are shown in the 1910 Ipswich map.


Sketch of the Heard distillery in 1750. After it ceased operations in 1830, Edward Plouf operated a tannery at the location. 


The Green Street Bridge, and Turkey Shore on the right. Photo taken from Great Cove, circa 1900.

The Green Street bridge was built in the late 19th Century, connecting the East End to Turkey Shore

The Green Street bridge was built in the late 19th Century, connecting the East End to Turkey Shore. The Emerson-Howard house is on the other side.

1 Turkey Shore Burham-Patch 1730 Read
2 Turkey Shore Heard-Lakeman 1776 Read
17 Turkey Shore John E. Norman 1895 Read
41 Turkey Shore Emerson – Howard 1640 Read
48 Turkey Shore Nathaniel Hodgkins 1720 Read
49 Turkey Shore Austin Measures 1874 Read
55 Turkey Shore Francis Wait 1850
59 Turkey Shore Otis Glover 1856 Read
63 Turkey Shore Isaac Foss 1850 Read
67 Turkey Shore Stephen Boardman 1725 Read

Further reading:

Thomas Franklin Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. II

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