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.
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.