In the book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Volume I, Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the history of Water Street, which is part of an early public right-of-way that extended from the wharf to the Green Street Bridge, then cotinued along the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk to County St.
“Close by the river bank, on either side, a public way was sedulously preserved from any encroachment. On the north side of the river it still remains in Water Street, and originally it seems to have continued near the river, through the present County lands. On the south side it skirted the river, followed Turkey Shore, and continued round the cove to the saw-mill. There were ways to the Labour-in-vain fields, and to the Heartbreak Hill lands, “Old England,” as we call it now.”
Water Street and Summer Street were the town’s first adopted “Ways,” and in the early years were known collectively as “The Way to the Meeting House,” and “The Way to the River.” The two streets host many of the town’s surviving First Period houses. Shown below are historic photos and postcards of the Ipswich River and Water Street, which were the seafaring areas of the village of Ipswich, and are the heart of the East End Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Low tide on Water St.
Herman Melanson’s Boatyard on Water Street burned in a spectacular fire on August 7, 2009.The boathouse was constructed by Herman Melanson’s father in 1954 and was also his residence. The entire building, three boats and several vehicles were destroyed. In previous years, Melanson’s boathouse had been an active boat-building facility. Mr. Melanson and his health-care worker managed to escape. This video was posted on Youtube by Donald Freyleue.
12 Water Street, the Glazier – Sweet house (1728)-This house was built in 1728 by Benjamin Glazier, a sea captain, and transitions the First and Second Periods of Colonial construction. The original half house and early Beverly Jog addition remain intact, with later additions.
32 Water Street, the Jabesh Sweet house (1713)-Jabesh Sweet built this house on a quarter acre lot by the river at 32 Water Street in 1713. People said that the ghost of Harry Maine the Mooncusser haunted the house that once sat where the garage for this house now stands. He was found guilty and staked to the Ipswich Bar for eternity.
36 Water Street, the York – Averill House (1715)-Captain Samuel York built this house in 1715 after selling two smaller lots on East Street. The earliest portions of this house date from the early years of his ownership, Benjamin Averill, a Revolutionary War veteran, bought the house in 1793 and it remained in the Averill family until the late 19th century.
4 Water Street, the Jewett house (1849)-This lot was sold In 1848 to William H. Jewett and Thomas L. Jewett from the estate of Moses Jewett. The house was built in 1849 from lumber taken from the 1747 Meeting House of the First Church when it was torn down, prior to the building of the Gothic church that stood on that location for a century. In the 1930's this house was the home of Joseph F. Claxton an Ipswich selectman.
6 Water Street, the Preston – Foster house (1690)-Ipswich deeds list the transfer of a house at this location from Roger Preston to Reginald Foster in 1657, but construction of this house dates to about 1690. Massive chamfered summer beams in the right section, the sharp-pitched roof and purlins provide evidence of the early date.
8 Water Street, the Harris-Sutton House (1677)-Abner Harris bought this lot and enlarged the house in 1743. When the house was dismantled and reconstructed in the early 21st Century, evidence was discovered indicating that the eastern part of the house may date to 1677.