John Edwards, a tailor, purchased this property from Samuel Symonds in 1668 (3:81) and built a house at this location in the same year. He was one of several townspeople appointed to the office of Tithingman by the Selectmen and instructed “to inspect disorderly persons, and to present the names of single persons that live out from under family government, to enter ordinaries and inspect them, and whatever else tends to irreligion.”
Edwards’ son John married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Lovell, whose dwelling was on the opposite side of the street. Prior to the marriage, the parents of the bride and groom covenanted to provide a home for the young couple. John Edwards bound himself to give his dwelling to his son, and Thomas Lovell agreed to give the pasture on the hill back of the house, April 11, 1693. (Salem Deeds, book 11, page 179) It is uncertain when the house acquired its present form.
Joseph Willcomb, a tailor, bought the house prior to 1762, and his heirs owned it for many years. The historic name of the house comes from a later Joseph Willcomb, a captain of many ships. Perhaps the most famous was the Malay, which was owned by Augustine Heard. The house stayed in the Willcomb family for more than 150 years.
The house was originally one room deep with a lower roof. The summer beams have simple chamfers and the central chimney has been cased with later trim. Joseph Willcomb initialed the sheathing in the stairwell in 1782. The house has a massive oak frame, central chimney and clapboards typical of other First Period houses on High Street. The dining room boasts a cavernous firebox and beehive oven. There is a rear ell and a Beverly jog. Some walls display the original wide-board paneling, which was exposed when plaster was removed during restoration. The house was partially restored in 1953, which included exposing the ancient frame.
The photo above shows the first floor right room beams and fireplace. View more photos from this house.
Joseph Willcomb House, 13 High Street Preservation Agreement
This house is protected by a preservation agreement with the Ipswich Historical Commission. Protected elements include:
- Exterior: front and side facades, roof, exterior chimney
- Interior: entire frame, fireboxes, front staircase, fireplace panels, cornice molding, post and beam cases.