ipswich_town_sealIpswich, Massachusetts was settled in 1633 in an area the native Americans called “Agawam” and is America’s best-preserved Puritan town, with more “First Period” houses (1625-1725) than any other community in America.

This site is produced by the Ipswich Town Historian.

The East End Historic District - The Ipswich East End Historic District was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980. View a complete description in the Nomination Report. View a walking tour of the East End Historic District The East End includes the seafaring portion of the original village of Ipswich and offers an architectural history of the … Continue reading The East End Historic District
High Street Historic District - The High Street Historical District in Ipswich was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. High Street was once the main residential and commercial street of the new community and several of the 17th, 18th and 19th Century houses still remaining once served as taverns, stores, or craftsman’s shops. High Street was … Continue reading High Street Historic District
South Green Historic District - The South Green Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The proposal was submitted by Margaret E. Welden for the Ipswich Historical Commission and is copied below. View also: Walking Tour of the South Green Historic District. The South Green dates from 1686, when the town voted that the area … Continue reading South Green Historic District
Meeting House Green Historic District - Featured image: Meeting House Green, 1839 The National Register of Historic Places is the official federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that have been determined significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. Ipswich has a total of seven listed historic districts and 62 individual structures. Boston was only three years … Continue reading Meeting House Green Historic District

A photographic and chronological history of the Ipswich Schools - Featured image: Manning School, and the first Winthrop School on the left. Photo by George Dexter, circa 1900. Excerpts from The History of the Ipswich Public Schools, an excellent article written in 2008 by William E. Waitt, Jr, who served as teacher and principal in the Ipswich Public Schools for 36 years; and A History of the Ipswich … Continue reading A photographic and chronological history of the Ipswich Schools
Wrecks of the sand schooners - These are photos of two-masted sand schooners, several of which wrecked at Steep Hill Beach, Crane Beach and Plum Island. Featured image: Wreckage on Steep Hill Beach believed to be the Ada K. Damon is frequently exposed by the changing tide and sands. Photo by Bruce Lord. Sand schooners delivered sand from local beaches to Boston … Continue reading Wrecks of the sand schooners
The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House, March 21, 1679 - In 17th Century New England,  the church was the center of government. Chebacco was the section of Ipswich that is now Essex, and its inhabitants were expected to make the ten-mile round trip every Sabbath, Lecture Day, Training Day or Town Meeting day to the Meeting House in Ipswich. Chebacco residents petitioned the town of … Continue reading The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House, March 21, 1679
The Ipswich Female Seminary - The Ipswich Female Seminary was established in April 1828 by Zilpah Grant and 24-year-old Mary Lyon for the secondary and college-level education of young women. Girls were prepared for careers as teachers and provided with rigorous studies in academic subjects and “standards of personal conduct and discipline.” It was the first endowed seminary for women … Continue reading The Ipswich Female Seminary
The ghost of Harry Maine - Featured image: Harry Maine house by Arthur Wesley Dow Harry Maine — you have heard the tale; He lived there in Ipswich Town; He blasphemed God, so they put him down With an iron shovel, at Ipswich Bar; They chained him there for a thousand years, As the sea rolls up to shovel it back … Continue reading The ghost of Harry Maine
The Legend of Heartbreak Hill - When the lands of Ipswich were apportioned among the settlers, the summit of Heartbreak Hill was designated as a planting lot because the Indians had cleared it for corn. Perhaps some settler was “heartbroken” to receive such an inaccessible and rocky field. The 1832 Ipswich map gives the name “Hardbrick,” and perhaps the name evolved from “Hardbrick,” which referred to the hill’s abundance of clay … Continue reading The Legend of Heartbreak Hill

Ipswich Open Space - Town meetings in Ipswich have voted to protect hundreds of acres of land, through the Open Space Program, making it available for the general public and preserving the land from development.
Ipswich Pedestrians and Cyclists Hiking trails and bicycle rides - The Ipswich Pedestrians and Cycling Advocacy Group  promotes safe non-automotive infrastructure that accommodates pedestrians and cyclists. View Bicycle-pedestrian-automobile accident statistics for Ipswich. 2009 Action Plan to Support Bicycle and Pedestrian Access and Safety in Ipswich  (incomplete) Join the Google Group Forum. Contact: Brian Hone Other resources Bike New England Ipswich bicycle rides Ipswich topo maps Complete Streets Pedestrian and … Continue reading Hiking trails and bicycle rides
Books and resources - Beginning wtih the Puritan’s Great Migration to America, and is one of the most historic towns in the country. This page provides online access to historic records, books, cemetery records, historic maps and other documents. Books and resources available through Amazon.com Recommended books about Ipswich Ipswich Public Library archives, complete list, PDF) Ipswich in the … Continue reading Books and resources

Historic events and legends - In April of 1614, Captain John Smith sailed near Ipswich and recorded, “Here are many rising hills, and on their tops and descents are many corne fields and delightful groves.” News of this pleasant land spread abroad and its rich history and legends have fascinated us for 400 years.  
Streets, roads and places - Many of the roads in Ipswich follow ancient paths of the Native Americans who called this place “Agawam.” The English settlers built their homes in a  half mile  radius of the Meeting House. In the year 1639, the General Court instructed that “all highways shall be laid out beforeth the next General Court. Every town shall choose two or … Continue reading Streets, roads and places
Old North Burying Ground - The Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich, Massachusetts was established in 1634 upon the founding of the town of the town, and is one of the oldest cemeteries in North America.
Historic people - Alice Keenan wrote, “When we moved to Ipswich, this lovely old town, its long history, ancient houses and interesting people became almost an obsession. Dry names and dates mean little to me until one firms out the flesh of the past, for it’s those long-ago people without whom Ipswich and its history would be dull.”
Photos from Ipswich - Many of these photos were digitally developed from original glass negatives taken by three early Ipswich photographers, Arthur Wesley Dow, George Dexter, and Edward L. Darling.
Historic women of the North Shore - Colonial Ipswich was a patriarchal society, and its history is all-too-frequently written by and about men. On this site, read dozens of stories about the women of Ipswich and the North Shore area.

Recent Posts

Holyoke-French house, Boxford Ma Colonial houses of Boxford - Houses built during the Colonial era in Boxford, Massachusetts. Listings and images provided by the MACRIS site of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and by Vision Properties for the Town of Boxford, with additional historical information from The Dwellings of Boxford, by Sidney Perley BOX.48, Dr. William Hale, Rev. William P. Alcott House, 2 Elm St, 1770: This house … Continue reading Colonial houses of Boxford
Is Purity Possible? - Originally posted on streetsofsalem:
Architectural purity, I mean: there’s no philosophical, spiritual or political rumination going on here. My house is such an assemblage of Federal, Greek Revival and eclectic Victorian styles that I often find myself craving architectural purity: it was “transitional” when it was built in 1827 and it became even more so…
Sketches of Cape Ann - From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1875
JFK was greeted enthusiastically throughout Ireland during his 1963 visit. A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection - Homecoming: JFK in Ireland, June 1963 by Helen Breen DUBLIN Two years ago while in Dublin, I took a tour of Leinster House, a magnificent ducal residence now the seat of the Irish Parliament. At the end of our visit we were guided up an impressive marble staircase. There hung a beautiful green silk ceremonial … Continue reading A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection
The purple storm of March 13, 1853 - Recalling a Singular Storm which Startled People 51 Years Ago Published: September 28, 1884, The New York Times Correspondent writing from Bass Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, ME “I don’t believe there has been a thunderstorm that I have witnessed for the past 30 years,” said a gentleman of this city, “which has not given me … Continue reading The purple storm of March 13, 1853
“The Residences at Essex Pastures” - John Bruni, dba “36 Essex Road Limited Partnership,” has filed an application with the state to build a 194 rental housing unit complex on Essex Road in Ipswich ,adjoining the buildings at the former Bruni’s Marketplace, which will be called, “The Residences at Essex Pastures.” The plan was filed under Chapter 40B, a state law … Continue reading “The Residences at Essex Pastures”
Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam - by M. E. Lepionka 3/6/17. Mary Ellen is a publisher, author, editor, textbook developer, and college instructor with a Master’s degree in anthropology from Boston University and post-graduate work at the University of British Columbia. In 2008 she retired to research the prehistory of Cape Ann and the Native Americans who lived here and to document … Continue reading Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam
Portraits from Ipswich, a century ago - In the winter of 2016, Robert Cronin and Bill Barton shared with me their collections of glass plate negatives taken by George Dexter (1862-1927) and Edward Darling (1874 – 1962), two of the earliest Ipswich photographers. The glass plates had been stored away for almost a century. I was able to develop the negatives into high resolution black … Continue reading Portraits from Ipswich, a century ago
The Essex Convention The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result - Delegates met in Ipswich in 1774 and 1778 to deliberate a Constitution for Massachusetts. Their “Exceptions” were published in the 60-page “Essex Result,” and included an ominous warning to future generations: In 1774, in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, General Gage was sent to Boston with troops, and assumed the governorship. The colony’s … Continue reading The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result
The “Detested Tea” - From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters In 1767, the Townshend Acts were passed, one of which provided for a tax on wine, glass, tea, gloves, etc, imported into the Province. During the winter, the General Court issued a Circular Letter, which was sent to the other Assemblies, notifying them of the measure … Continue reading The “Detested Tea”
Bungalows of Ipswich - The Eastern Bungalow style was popular between 1910-1940, which included the Depression years. They are an affordable and practical adaptation of California’s Arts and Crafts movement. Full second floors are not a feature of this style, but finished attics are common. The style shares features with traditional well-ventilated folk houses in the warmer U.S. south, with expansive front porches that form a … Continue reading Bungalows of Ipswich
Lynn shoe workers strike 1860 Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860 - Mass Moments On February 22,  1860, thousands of striking shoeworkers filled Lyceum Hall in Lynn. By choosing to begin their protest on Washington’s birthday, the strikers were invoking the memory of their revolutionary forefathers. Lynn had been a shoemaking town since the early 1800s. Hard times had now caused management to cut wages and speed … Continue reading Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860
“Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills - The weaver, after loading a new pirn wrapped with thread into a shuttle, drew the loose end through the hole with her breath. Certainly no one connected this habit with the observation, made sometime in the nineteenth century, that weavers were dying of what was then called consumption at a higher rate than the general public.
In Ipswich, we are all immigrants - Featured image: Immigrant workers at the Ipswich Hosiery Mill, by Ipswich photographer George Dexter. The earliest evidence of habitation in Ipswich was discovered in the 1950’s at the Bull Brook Paleoindian site, where hundreds of stone instruments were recovered, made by early Native Americans who migrated here after the ice age glaciers receded. The Agawam Indians who greeted the first … Continue reading In Ipswich, we are all immigrants
The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773 - From The History and Traditions of Marblehead” by Samuel Roads. Featured image by Charles Green. During the year 1773, the attention of the inhabitants of Marblehead was for a time occupied in considering their danger from another source than the oppressive acts of the British Parliament. In June the wife of Mr. William Matthews was … Continue reading The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773
High Spirits on Town Hill -   Standing 14′ high and about 12′ wide, the new bronze sculpture by Chris Williams on North Main St. in Ipswich honors the town’s creative community. It was conceived and funded by Ipswich resident Richard Silverman as a tribute to his late wife Robin Silverman.    
Groveland Colonial houses - Groveland, MA was settled asthe East Parish of Bradford, a part of the town of Rowley in the early Colonial era. Before Bradford was separated from Rowley in 1672, it was called “Rowley on the Merrimack”, or just “Merrimack”. Bradford in turn was annexed by Haverhill in 1897 after a bloody and violent conflict. Groveland officially … Continue reading Groveland Colonial houses
Thomas Jefferson Jefferson’s Warning to the White House | Time.com - From an article by Nancy Gibbs,  Time Magazine, February 6, 2017:  Jefferson’s Warning to the White House During the campaign of 1800, a Federalists newspaper article stated that with Jefferson as president: “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will … Continue reading Jefferson’s Warning to the White House | Time.com
West Newbuy Massachusetts Colonial houses of West Newbury MA - The town of West Newbury provides the following history: West Newbury’s history as a town began in 1635 when 23 men and their families, all from England, sailed through Plum Island Sound and up the Parker River, landing in Newbury. As more settlers arrived and families increased, land in Newbury became scarce, and some people … Continue reading Colonial houses of West Newbury MA
Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport - Text by James B. Stone, from Images from the Past , published by the Newbury 350th anniversary Committee. Featured image: Bridge over the Parker River in Newbury, on today’s Rt. 1A, 1898. When the first settlers arrived in Newbury in May of 1635, there were only Indian trails which wound through the forests. Besides food and shelter, … Continue reading Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport
The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz - By Gavin Keenan Retired Ipswich Police Officer and local legend Charles Benjamin Schwartz passed away on January 19, 2017. Charlie had struggled with cancer this last year and as he would say, “Gave it as good as I got.” Although I am relieved for him that his suffering has ended, I’m saddened by the passing … Continue reading The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz
The Railroad in Ipswich - Ipswich Museum winter 2015 exhibit Dates: Saturdays and Sundays, February 4 – April 30, 2017, 1-4 pm. Cost: family non-members $10, individual non-members $5, and free for museum members. This exhibit will tell the story of the railroad in Ipswich and its impact on the community over the years. The first train arrived in Ipswich at … Continue reading The Railroad in Ipswich
Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts - Merrimac sits on the Merrimack river abutting the southeastern border of New Hampshire. Settled by the English in 1638 as a part of Salisbury and later as a part of Amesbury around the village of Merrimacport, it was known throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an agricultural and fishing community, with a small amount of … Continue reading Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts
Born in a refuge camp - By Ingrid Miles, Ipswich  I was born in a refugee camp and I feel as if I am reliving my parents nightmare after World War II when my dad had to modify his name and identify himself as Christian; my mother was Catholic in order to come to this country as displaced persons aka DP’s. … Continue reading Born in a refuge camp
John Brown’s Farm (aka Pony Express) - The 128-acre Pony Express Farm is bordered by Chebacco, Essex and Candlewood Roads. The property includes a large polo field, open fields, woods, trails and wetlands along the western bank of the Castle Neck River. A proposal to purchase a portion of the property by the Town of Ipswich as part of the Open Space Program for youth playing … Continue reading John Brown’s Farm (aka Pony Express)
The Choate Bridge in Ipswich, photo by George Dexter Battles of the bridges - Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters The stone bridges which span the Ipswich river with their graceful arches are picturesque and interesting, but the readiness with which the Town proceeded to build the latter two stone bridges is in singular contrast with the belligerent opposition to the earliest ones. The … Continue reading Battles of the bridges
Millend Ipswich 1635 “Millend” Ipswich, 1635 - Excerpts from “Millend, Ipswich” by M.B.V. Perley, 1901 MILLEND was located about the Saltonstall Mill (*the present location of the EBSCO and the Mill District). The ground has become historic. There planted the first Samuel Appleton,
Martin Luther King An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” - by Helen Breen Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first established as a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. THE LAST SPEECH On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., flew into Memphis, Tennessee to support striking African American sanitation workers in the midst of a bitter strike. Rumors of death … Continue reading An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”