This photo was posted by the Ipswich Museum on their Facebook page today, with the caption, “an undated image of a woman bundled up and enjoying the snow in style.”

This photo was posted by the Ipswich Museum.
This photo was posted by the Ipswich Museum. I realized that the negative had been reversed, and the corrected photo is shown below.

I wondered if this photo came from Ipswich– the streetscape reminded me of Summer Street, but it did not match the houses. I took a look at an aerial view of Summer Street, and I realized that the negative had been developed in reverse! The woman is standing in front of 16 Summer Street, which in reality is on her right, and the view of the street is looking uphill toward North Main Street.

So I headed on down to Summer Street to confirm my suspicion, and took a photo from the same location. It’s a definite match!

Who is this lady dressed in fur? The electrical lines above her head tell us that the photo was taken after the year 1900, and the style of clothing was  popular with women from the 1880’s until the first decade of the 20th Century.

The mystery woman is standing in front of this house, which is to her right when the incorrectly developed images is reversed.
The mystery woman appears to be standing in front of a house at 16 Summer Street, which is to her right when the incorrectly developed images is reversed. Was this where she lived? And if so, who was she?

It may be that the woman lived across the street. The Ipswich Museum posted a couple of other mystery photos last year that I realized were taken from either the driveway between 15 and 17 Summer St. (judging by perspective) or the driveway between 17 and 19 Summer Street (judging by the shape of the house in the driveway at the end of this post.  The young man dusting the pillow with a paddle in one of those photos is unidentified.

The Ipswich database tells us the house at 16 Summer St. was built between 1845 and 1856 by Nathaniel Treadwell. There were many Nathaniel Treadwells in Ipswich, dating back to the 17th Century, and the Treadwell family is quite prominent in the history of our town. Two of the early Nathaniel Treadwells ran popular inns on North main Street, and another was lost at sea.

We know that the house stayed in the Treadwell family until the 20th Century. The Ipswich Village 1856 map shows the house is owned by N. Treadwell, and in 1872 the house belongs to W. Treadwell. Looking in their membership list for the Ipswich Historical Society at the end of Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society, I found that for at least a decade, “Miss Ann H. Treadwell” was a non-resident member, living in Jamaica Plain.

The mystery woman dressed in fur may have lived on Summer Street, but for now her identity is unknown.

The original negative was developed backwards. This is the correct view, looking up Summer St. towards North Main St.
The original negative was developed backwards. This is the correct view, looking up Summer St. towards North Main St.
The same view today, standing in front of 16 Summer St.
The same view today, standing in front of 16 Summer St.
The house at 16 Elm Street is in the distance, taken from the house at 17 Summer Street.
The missing house at 18 Summer Street is in the distance, taken from the driveway between 17 and 19 Summer Street. Photo courtesy of the Ipswich Museum.
This is another photo taken from the same location as the above. The identity of the young man is unknown.
This is another photo taken from the same location as the above. The identity of the young man is unknown.
The Ipswich Museum provided this photo of two men standing in the driveway at 17 Summer Street. It is becoming apparent that the photographer lived in this house.
The Ipswich Museum provided this photo of two men standing at the rear of the driveway between 15 and 17 Summer Street. We have not yet identified the men, but it seems that the photographer lived in this house.

5 thoughts on “The mystery woman (and men) of Summer Street

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s