In 1854 James Damon moved the old court building from the North Green to the corner of Market Street and Depot Square where it became known as the “Damon Block.”
Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about the old court building:
“Our survey cannot be completed without a glimpse at the small grass plot, in front of the Methodist Meeting House. Here the first Town-house was built… It was replaced by a new building, erected at the joint expense of Town and County, in 1793-94, a much more pretentious structure with a high belfry or steeple. It stood with its rear end close to the high ledge, which has been blasted to its present level, but which was originally as high as the eaves of the building itself. Thus, in close proximity to prison, stocks and whipping post, the Courts held their stately sessions from 1704 to 1854, when they ceased their sittings, and the house was sold and removed to the corner near the railroad station. It was utilized by Mr. James Damon for a hall and stores, and was totally destroyed by fire, April 14, 1894. Famous judges sat in the bar; great lawyers, Webster, Choate and Story, made their pleas; momentous cases were decided under its roof. “
Fire protection before the Twentieth Century was supplied by private fire companies with hand-pulled hand tubs and horse-drawn hose wagons. There were three hand tub companies, operating the “Warren” on Warren Street near Meeting House Green, the “Neptune” at Lords Square and the “Torrent” in the Candlewood neighborhood. In January 1894, all of Central Street from Market Street to Hammatt Street was destroyed by fire. On April 17 of the same year the Damon Block on the other end of Market Street burned.
A new three floor Damon Block was constructed and was considered by many to be the most beautiful building in town. Over the years it was home to the New England Telephone Company, John Blake’s drugstore, the French Society of Artisans, the Cash Division Grocery store, Clapton’s Wholesale Vegetable Store, Scahill’s Barber Shop and Damon Furniture.
In 1946 this new Damon Building was severely damaged by fire and the building was reconstructed without the third floor. The building burned again and was totally destroyed in a 1982 fire, after which it was replaced by the building we see at that corner today.
James Damon was a businessman and built a beautiful Italianate home on North Main Street. This home is all that’s left of Damon’s architectural imprint on Ipswich.
In the mid-19th Century Damon built the County Street Mill on Falls Island at Sawmill Point, which was destroyed by fire.