Ipswich Depot

I posted the following question in 2014: 

How has the town of Ipswich changed over the years for driving, walking, cycling, shopping, and old-fashioned neighborliness. (Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post).


The Ipswich Fire Department with horse-drawn fire engine

Michele Nelson I rode horses a lot when I lived in Ipswich. I wonder how many of the trails I rode on in Ipswich and Hamilton are still open to horses. I moved away and now I ride bicycles. I wonder how the riding is in Ipswich on the road and on trails. Are the roads narrow with no bike lanes and lots of traffic? Can you ride mtn bikes in Bradley Palmer SP and Willowdale SF?

Robert Macklin Back 25 years ago you could walk down Market street and the downtown section and people would know you buy name, and say hello and have a conversation with each other. Today they don’t even now the next door neighbors. They should get there faces out of the electronic tracking devices and phones and get to have a live face to face conversation with a human being. Lets not forget the Hardware store on Market St.

Sally Bolles Clancy 50 yrs ago (I know I’m dating myself). We walked everywhere morning , noon, and night. We were safe, our parents didn’t worry. In the 80s I picked up my daughter, things had changed.

Paul Hatgil A small town with all the amenities.

The Strand Theater
The Strand Theater on Market St.

Charlotte Lindgren The biggest change in Ipswich has been for the better in that there are no longer districts strictly divided by ethnicity and social strata. When the mills were active many spoke little English so clustered together by the language spoken and in housing run by the mills. There were big private estates and many small farms. Clam shacks lined the river.

Each group was a little world of its own. Let me mention one loss to Ipswich. There has never been a real replacement for Hills Store on Market Street. Though it began as a men’s shop it soon became a family store where everyone bought their shoes, back to school outfits, winter clothes, sweaters, and dresses. The clerks were all Ipswich natives who not only knew your name, but usually the size you needed. The fire that destroyed the building ended a part of Ipswich life. Don’t forget Goodhue’s!

David Wallace This town has gone through so many changes I could write a book about it…or even more then one book…But for openers the curfew bell no longer tolls and the fire whistle no longer blows..the major change I see though is in the teen lifestyle. Here are the top ten things we lost in downtown area

Goodhue's store on Central Street
Goodhue’s hardware store when it was on Central Street at the beginning of the 20th Century.  Goodhue’s was later located on Market Street
The Agawam Diner when it was across from the Depot

Sally Kiesling I remember shopping for our back-to-school clothes and shoes at the Style Center. Christine, Kitty, Dick, and (one other)were always so helpful. They even had one of those old x-ray machines that you put your feet under to make sure the shoes fit properly. First National and the A&P were down town so people were able to walk to the grocery stores. Woolworth’s 5 & 10 was always a fun spot. And Quint’s Drug Store had a wonderful soda fountain for special treats.

Quint’s Corner

Heather Ferguson You take your life in your hands walking around town and trying to cross streets. This morning was another morning that I was walking one of my dogs, was 1/2 way across a crosswalk by the Whipple House (a car heading north on 1A let us cross) and I had to pull up and stop because someone blew through the other side of the crosswalk. His window was down but he just kept going and did not make eye contact. However, I have a feeling that it is not just a “town issue” but a societal issue in general. Slow down people! Happens almost every morning that someone blows by a cross walk when I am trying to cross with one (or more) dogs.

“Bills on the bridge”

Sharon Burke West Your parents knew what and where you were before you got home cause everyone knew who you belonged to.

Tim Clancy A few others David; Atlas lunch. Bill’s on the Bridge, Cioleks(sp), Goodhues. Some nice new ones; Zumis, the Pub, to name a few.

The Atlas restaurant, corner of Market and South Main Streets

Kathleen Donaher Spinale What has never changed about this town is how the people come together in times of tragedy and disaster. One needs to only look at how people were looking out for others during the storm a week ago Saturday, but other examples would include the support families have received when they’ve tragically lost loved ones, or when a group bands together to support one of our own who needs help during a medical or other crisis. It’s always been that way, and we can only hope it will always be that way.

Gavin Keenan Gordon, taking your question in sequence, my impressions of the changes in town over the course of my life have been these: Like everywhere else there is increased traffic with more cars on the road than in years past, but conversely, we have far less serious vehicle accidents involving personal injury. This is probably due to the improved safety design of cars, as well as a marked decrease in driving under the influence of alcohol / drugs. Back 30+ years ago, the Fire Department needed to deploy the Jaws of Life at least six or seven times a year to extract an accident victim from a twisted wreck. Now, this is a very rare occasion.

Walking was probably not as common an activity, at least for exercise purposes, as it is today. The people who walked then did so because they didn’t have cars. A few folks used a bike as the sole means of transportation. Considering that most bikes then were single speed or 3 speed “English Bikes” biking was strenuous and difficult. And hitchhiking -“thumbing” as we called it then, was another means of transportation.

First National Store, Market Street, 1967

When I was a young kid, most shopping was done locally. Between the A&P, First National, neighborhood stores and a busy downtown, families could find most things that they needed right here. A big trip would be to North Beverly to Zayre’s or Robert Hall clothing stores. A safari would be to the outdoor shopping center in Peabody – now the North Shore Mall. I agree with Kathleen, neighborliness comes out best during hard times. People were probably more informed of their neighbors business back in the day than now, but maybe a little more privacy is a good thing, not sure. One thing that was different then is that neighborhood parents were more watchful over the kids in the hood, and would let a transgressors parents know when he / she was out of line. I think this has sadly slipped away.

Memorial Day parade on East Street, mid-1950’s

Celeste Penney Jim Sotiropoulos I have lived in Florida 13 years and I couldn’t tell you one neighbor’s last name and only a couple of first names. It seems the neighborhood I grew up in, everybody knew everyone and if you didn’t like what your mother was cooking you could go to a few others’ houses and eat. Times have changed. My children had the same bus driver as i did, my neighbor and life-long friend the late Helen Bowen. 

Someone said the town has changed for the better by not having the ethnic enclaves, but with their demise also goes many traditions and true multi-generational “neighborhoods” where not only did you know everyone, but you were related to some (or many) of them. As a non-Polish non-Greek non-French kid growing up here, I relished being invited over to friends’ homes where there were different languages and traditions (and the most delicious treats and meals!) and most of us knew how to say simple greetings and wish others a happy holiday in at least two other languages. My husband loved growing up with with his grandparent’s relatives living all around him in the old neighborhoods. He still talks about the Greek and Polish ladies cooking.


Kim Marchand  I think Moms have to be out in the workforce, as opposed to years ago. There used to be horses and riders everywhere, along the roadside. Now you only see the signs.

Michael Tyler Boutchie No more Iggy in her red Ford Fiesta, “Tic Toc,” the “Legend,” the “Sleepwalker,” Chester the “Molester” or the guy with the army getup with beard that would walk 133 and sleep in the woods.

Linda George Grimes Also “Dumppicker Annie.” We were forbidden to ever thumb a ride, but my mother always picked up Crazy Gene and gave him a lift because he lived on our street.

Chuck Kollars There were stories about going ice skating on the top of Spring Street, and about somebody always being there with a warm fire and a cup of hot chocolate.

Chuck Abbott  I love Ipswich and it was a great place to grow up. We always had a good group of guys and gals. Lot of first run movies at the strand. Watching the NFL games at the Memorial Bldg. The Greek store was a fun place to go for me. I had so many jobs in those early years. We delivered Zervas milk in Glouster. During the war years we were all the same, doing the best we could and never complaning very much. Ipswich was always a very proud town of it’s history and their veterans; I marched along in many parades. I also marched when I was in uniform. We all hung out at Cranes beach.

Carol Nunes People and families were just so much closer in those days! It would be safe to walk downtown and everybody would be sitting out on their porches and you would always find yourself in friendly conversation as you walked along. There was a lot of love shone to one another. People seem to be too busy today for that stuff…

Dorothy Young I remember from the 40’s until the early 70’s when my grandmother would bake pies or casseroles for new neighbors, or whenever anyone was sick or someone whose family member had passed away. A short time after that – around 1972 – I baked a pie and brought it to my new next-door neighbor who really appreciated it. People are much more mobile, I think, and busy with work and their children’s activities and friends are made through work and their children’s friends’ parents. I remember walking down the street towards the wharf with my toddler son back in the early ’80’s, and there would be Mr. Hill, sitting on his front porch, and we’d have brief conversations. I totally agree with you, Carol Nunes! Times seemed more relaxed and we knew everyone…also, as kids in the 50’s, we couldn’t get away with much as everyone knew who our family was and made sure our parents were told if we misbehaved.

The First Church burned down in the 1960’s

Kathy Kelleher You are right, we have lost a lot of wonderful things that we all loved growing up. As Sally mentioned, I loved the Style Center & have great memories of going there to get my first pair of summer Keds sneakers… However, we are talking mostly of 40 or 50 years ago… Yes they were great but people pass away, stores close, and new ones move in. We have such gems as Zumi’s, 5 Corners, Choate Bridge, Salt Kitchen, Green Grocer, Zofia’s & Ithaki’s. Oh, & how can I forget Marty’s Donuts! As someone who grew up in Ipswich but spent much of my adult life not living here, now that I’m back, I love it! Many of my friends still live here and I really appreciate all of the incredible & new activities that go on in town for all ages… I’m thrilled with our town… And I think that most of the changes are positive. Yes, things are very different than we I grew up here but that is true in every town in America…. Sad but true, but just because some of us have such fond memories of the “way it was” does not mean that we are not open to new & wonderful new friends & new memories.

5 thoughts on “Readers answer the question: How has Ipswich changed?

  1. While there may have been a lot of changes in Ipswich, after having lived away from town for many years (but never truly left it) I always feel it hasn’t changed at all whenever I return. It’s my connection to sanity, as far away from Washington DC as you can get.

  2. I moved to Ipswich when I was 15 and consider it my hometown. By the way, that was in 1959…..Janice’s was the only place to be after school, where we could nurse a Coke and french fries for hours. My mother and I would buy one last special ornament for the tree on Christmas Eve at Woolworth’s. And,yes, we walked everywhere! Now I live in Florida but spend summers in NNew Hampshire…. and at least bi-weekly trips to Ipswich. Need my Clam Box “fix”!

  3. Ipswich was ( and still is ) a wonderful community. I miss the ” old days ” the many times that I stayed with relatives and friends in Ipswich. What do I miss the most – the long gone local businesses – doing business with the local merchants in the community. One of my family’s ( and mine ) favorite stores to purchase clothes was at Hill’s. Hill’s was a wonderful store. Howard ” Taffy ” Hill was wonderful to do business with. The customer service at Hill’s was fantastic.

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