13 High Street, the Joseph Willcomb house (1669-1693)

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.

Joseph Wilcomb house Ipswich MA

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.


Homes of the Wilcomb family of Ipswich

View from Town Hill in Ipswich by George Dexter, before 1900 A Chronology of Ipswich history - Ipswich, Massachusetts was settled in 1633 in an area the Native Americans called “Agawam” and has more “First Period” houses (1625-1725) than any other community in America. History articles on this site, indexed by century and decade: The following list of dates and events in Ipswich history is from the Genealogy of the Willcomb family of New England… Continue reading A Chronology of Ipswich history
43 Summer Street, the Wilcomb-Pinder house (1718) - This timber-framed First Period house was built in 1718 by William Wilcomb. The interior of the home features hand-hewn summer beams, wide plank flooring and the original fireplaces. The next owner, William Benjamin Pinder was a corporal with Col. Appleton’s company during the French and Indian War.… Continue reading 43 Summer Street, the Wilcomb-Pinder house (1718)
25 East St., Ipswich MA the Stanwood-Willcomb house 25 East St, the Stanwood-Willcomb house (1830) - Stephen Stanwood erected this house in 1830 for a fulling mill. Sheep grazed on the bare hills above East and High Streets, and the mill used water that ran from the springs. This is said to be the first house in town to have running water. Fred Willcomb and his brother Lewis E. Willcomb operated a store here at Willcomb's Corner.… Continue reading 25 East St, the Stanwood-Willcomb house (1830)
13 High Street, the Joseph Willcomb house (1669-1693) - John Edwards, a tailor, acquired the property in 1668. The earliest section was built by Edwards or his son when he inherited the property in 1693. Edwards was one of several Tithingmen appointed by the Selectmen “to inspect disorderly persons. Joseph Willcomb bought the house prior to 1762.… Continue reading 13 High Street, the Joseph Willcomb house (1669-1693)

1 thought on “13 High Street, the Joseph Willcomb house (1669-1693)”

  1. I just recently found out that Joseph Willcomb is 5th great grand father. I remember seeing this house when visiting my sister in law right down the road on high st.

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