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.”

View of the original Damon Building, corner of Market Street and Depot Square. It was moved down from the Green in front of the First Church, where it served as the court building from 1794 – 1854, at which time court ceased to be held there.

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. “

1832_philander_closeup
In this view from the 1832 Philander map of Ipswich, the court building is identified as the Great House and sits between First Church and the Probate office (Odd Fellows Building). Both it and the church had a steeple. The Methodist Church did not yet exist. The Great House was moved down the hill by James Damon to the corner of Depot Square and became the Damon Building.
The first Damon Building was moved from its original location between the Methodist and Congregational Churches on Meeting House Green, to the corner of Depot Square and Market Street. It was completely destroyed by fire in 1894.

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.

The Damon building sits in the middle of this closeup from the 1893 Birdseye Map of Ipswich
The Damon building sits in the middle of this closeup from the 1893 Birdseye Map of Ipswich

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.

The first Damon Building, corner of Market and Depot Square, was destroyed by fire in April, 1894

damon_block_fire_panoramic

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.

The new Damon Building was the most elegant structure in Ipswich. The old Ipswich Depot is on the left, and behind it is the Hayes Hotel, which burned in the late 20th Century, resulting in loss of life.

Damon_bldg

Photo by Edward L. Darling, circa 1900., with notes by William J. Barton below.
Photo circa 1900 by Edward L. Darling, with notes by William J. Barton: “The earlier Damon Store bunt down April 19, 1894. This building was built by the same men who built the Methodist Church and the Winthrop School. The top floor was used for a few years by the Ipswich Lawn Tennis Club after the Winthrop Club. The F.O. E. Eagles were here next, then in 1913, the Carrolton Council 498 Knights of Columbus. In the room with the bay window (second story) was the first telephone office–New England T&T Co. after they moved from Blake’s Drug Store. The first moving picture house was where the clothing store is, run by Hubbard and Hapgood. They afterwards moved in the hall on the second floor. The French Society of Artisans moved into the second floor after the moving pictures vacated. On the street floor was William Stone’s Pool Room. On the corner was the Cash Division Grocery Store, for years Tougas & Tougas. William Claxton had a wholesale vegetable store. William Scahill operated a barber shop, and there was the Damon & Damon furniture store. 
A beautiful new Damon Block was built at the corner of Market Street and Depot Square after the 1894 fire.
The third floor of the Damon Building burned in 1946 and was removed. The building was completely destroyed by a fire in 1982. Photo by Walter Trask
The Damon Building was completely destroyed by fire in 1982. In the foreground is the Strand Theater, which was demolished not long afterward.
The current brick building at the location of the former Damon Building was built in 1982 and is owned by Market Street LLC.

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.

James Damon built this home on North Main Street in 1866.

In the mid-19th Century Damon built the County Street Mill on Falls Island at Sawmill Point, which was destroyed by fire.

James Damon's mill on County Street is in the middle of this photo, to the left of the County Street bridge.
James Damon’s mill on County Street is in the middle of this closeup from the 1893 Birds Eye Map, to the left of the County Street bridge. At the top is the Ipswich jail, site of the current Town Hall. The Old Town Hall is on the lower right, and the EBSCO building is below it in the corner. The Caldwell Building (the Pub) and the Choate Bridge are also shown.
James Damon built this mill building on the northwest corner of the County Street bridge in 1863 . It was considered by many to be a firetrap, and burned some years after it closed in 1886.

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