Just beyond the Choate bridge on South Main Street was a funky building put together from pieces of other buildings by an antiques dealer named Ralph Burnham early in the 20th Century. In the 1960’sHoward Ferguson and Gardner Damon started the Kings Rook. Good coffee and cocoa were served, two fireplaces kept it warm in the winter, and music could be heard through the open windows. Many famous musicians played their tunes to Ipswich ears, including Tom Rush, Richard and Mimi Fariña, Judy Collins, the Cryan’ Shames and Paul Butterfield.

jgeils

The Kings Rook – Stonehenge Club

stonehengeIn 1969 Phil Cole purchased the building and renamed it Stonehenge, but continued the musical fare.  The J. Geils Band, the original Modern Lovers, the Flying Burrito Brothers,  Boz Skaggs, Bo Diddley, Al Kooper, Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen, Billy Squier with The Sidewinders, Leo Kottke, John Lee Hooker, Martin Mull, Michael Nesmith (from The Monkees), The Velvet Underground (without Lou Reed), Liv Taylor, John Hammond Jr., Pearls Before Swine, Mimi Fariña , Bonnie Rait, Tim Hardin, The Holy Modal Rounders, Jon Pousette-Dart, Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort, the Jackie Lomax Band and Harry Chapin all played at the Stonehenge Club.

The glory days did not last long, however, and by 1972 the music was gone. The building later became the Carriage House Restaurant before it was demolished. The site is now a professional building, but the new building has many of the same architectural features.

The Stonehenge Club
The Stonehenge Club
The Kings Rook and Stonehenge sat behind and to the right of the Sherborne Wilson house, which still stands on South Main Street near the Choate Bridge

15 thoughts on “Kings Rook and Stonehenge Club: when Ipswich rocked!

  1. What a trip down memory lane! Enjoyed many a Friday night sipping Mitt Schlags….a type of express served in a very large mug with a handle (almost like a small soup bowl) but with a handle. It was topped with real whipped cream. My date: Art Ansel a Columbia post grad, and I a lowly senior in high school! I will always remember seeing some of the best names in the folk music scene and how I miss that whole “beatnik vibe”. Absolutely wonderful memories. Thanks for allowing us to post and share.

  2. I spent many happy Fridays or Saturdays at The Kings Rook ipswich in the mid sixties. Tom Rush, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, John Hammond and many others, sealed my love for the Blues and folk music. The grenadine drinks, a votive candle at each table, the stage so close , Magic!

  3. I am almost 70 yrs no and I remember the Kings Rook with great memories. Many nights of Grenadine and soda water, sometimes 7 up or ginger ale. No alcohol served at all. half the teens in town went there every Fri, and Sat. night, Really Great memories. Took my dates there many times, for quiet romantic times

    1. I used to go there to see Tom Rush. I can’t remember the name of the grenadine drinks. It was something catchy that made us underage drinkers feel as though we were having something cool.

  4. I started working there washing dishes in 1964 when Jackie Washington came to perform……Stayed until the end when Phil Cole bought the place. I have nothing but wonderful memories of those days…….

  5. I saw Michael Cooney perform at the King’s Rook in the mid 60’s. Was the coffee house located in a basement or lower level of the Ipswich building?

    I’m checking the accuracy of my memory

  6. A guy from Haverhill Ma had a band that played at the Kings Rook frequently – Vinny Schena – covered the Stones – pretty well as I remember

  7. Howard Ferguson setting history straight. about 1962 , the partners,howard ferguson / gardner damon – along with BROADSIDES dave wilson doing the booking, created the venue. Now , gardner acted as the maitre d at the door,as this was his participation in the business and I along with dave did the booking among daves friends/musicians/contacts. I did the day to day management of the place,till it was time [1964]to go off to open KINGS ROOK HONDA in beverly./ gardner and I created the KINGS ROOK REALTY TRUST,in 1960-61 to buy the building housing the original KINGS ROOK MARBLEHEAD that I started in 1959,GARDNER was this 22 year olds beatnik/hippies front man to the banks loan money needed to purchase the building I rented,but had to than purchase, as the landlady did not want to be involved in my marblehead town father fight. gardner was a customer of mine,had no involvement in that coffeehouse and only came in to that KINGS ROOK MARBLEHEAD for his pot of earl grey tea, write poetry ,and charm my afternoon clientell of older ladys . man, I LOVED HIM. he was instrumental in my financial

    survival at that time.

    1. I worked @ King’s Rook Cycles in Beverly at the parts counter from ~1968 through 1972. It was a great place to work.

  8. In early 1972, Chi Coltrane was at stonehenge with Tim Hardin. Four of us came on Thursday and found the place empty. It seems Coltrane was on the bill for Friday/Saturday and Tim Hardin was solo on Thursday. The manager suggested Tim do a peronal set at our table and call it a night. Tim came out , sat at our table and performed gem after gem for 45 minutes. After Reason to Believe, he asked if we were satisfied, said goodnight and left. A once in a lifetime night. I don’t drive by that area without remembering that night.

  9. I remember Gardner Damon, very well, seeing him usually sitting at a table in the front room at the Ipswich Rook in the mid- 1960s. I know the town father’s of Ipswich, embraced the Rook as a “non-alcohol” venue for the teens in town, and unlike town fathers in Marblehead were very happy to have the Coffeehouse business in town. I remember one night in the mid 1960s coming to see Judy Collins play the Ipswich coffeehouse. She arrived early and decided to have dinner before the performance. During dinner she had a few drinks, and when she returned Gardner, (a notorious tee-totaller) thought she was drunk and made such a fuss she threatened not to perform. Cooler heads prevailed, and the show went on. Great memories. – Stephen P. Hall

  10. I went there to see Judy Collins many times. Also,my former wife, Karen Reed Parker, and I used to go there and rock out in 1967 when things were hopping there. I had many great times there and like all things, am sorry it is gone. Remember the Garage a Go-Go? It was in the old Ipswich Ford, right across the street, where my Dad bought his last new Ford in 1966. Who would have thought little Ipswich could have such cool places?

  11. Very good points , particularly in terms of Gardner Damon, he really was the one who was responsible for transforming the coffee house into such a fabulous venue for the top cutting edge talent of the day. It was a very remarkable venture to have such great people come and
    perform out in, what was at that time, the “boonies”

  12. I don’t recall their ever having served cocoa. Tea though. It was the same fare in Marblehead. Espressso or Earl Gray Tea and the offering of a tiny little square piece of cheesecake . That’s pretty much it except for the grenadine drink with bubbly water. And nowhere in this account is Damon mentioned. Gardner Damon did a lot to preserve potentially historic buildings locally and in Marblehead. Add to the list of rockers, another folkie act — The Pozo Seco Singers. and Eric Anderson. Good times.

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