Water St. and the Green St. bridge
In the book,
Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Volume I, Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the history of Water Street, which is part of an early public right-of-way that extended from the wharf to the Green Street Bridge, then cotinued along the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk to County St.
“Close by the river bank, on either side, a public way was sedulously preserved from any encroachment. On the north side of the river it still remains in Water Street, and originally it seems to have continued near the river, through the present County lands. On the south side it skirted the river, followed Turkey Shore, and continued round the cove to the saw-mill. There were ways to the Labour-in-vain fields, and to the Heartbreak Hill lands, “Old England,” as we call it now.”
Clam shacks on Water St. Photo by George Dexter, circa 1890. Notice that at that time, Water St. was just a wide dirt path.
The 1872 Ipswich map shows a section of Water Street missing. Between Summer Street and Hovey Street, Water St. was still an unimproved dirt pathway.
Water Street and Summer Street were the town’s first adopted “Ways,” and in the early years were known collectively as “The Way to the Meeting House,” and “The Way to the River.” The two streets host many of the town’s surviving
First Period houses. Shown below are historic photos and postcards of the Ipswich River and Water Street, which were the seafaring areas of the village of Ipswich, and are the heart of the East End Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Water Street at the foot of Summer Street.
The Ipswich River looking upstream from the Green Street bridge.
Water St. approaching the Town Wharf. The small building may have been the old Customs House.
The Ipswich River, running alongside Water St.
The pirate Harry Maine’s house on Water St.
The B. Ellsworth house at the foot of Hovey St. Glover’s Coal Wharf is on the far right.
“Boats at Rest” by Arthur Wesley Dow
Water Street near the Green Street bridge.
Watercolor by Arthur Wesley Dow, who lived across the river.
Looking toward the Green Street bridge.
Water Street at the foot of Summer Street
Low tide on Water St.
Sunset over town, by Arthur Wesley Dow
Block print by Arthur Wesley Dow of houses on Water Street.
Postcard of the Town Wharf, with Water St. in the background on the right and the Green St. Bridge in the distance.
Looking downstream from the Town Wharf
Water Street is on the left in this photograph of the Town Wharf in the 19th Century.
A coal schooner at Brown’s Wharf.
Glover’s Wharf was on Water St. near the Town Wharf.
The wharf area at the far end of Water St. in 1910.
The intersection of East and Water Streets at the Town Wharf
Water Street 1909, view from the current Ipswich Yacht Club site. In the background is Fall’s Coal Barn, which burned in the 1920’s.. Mr. fall delivered coal door to door with a horse-drawn wagon.
View of Summer St. from Turkey Shore by George Dexter.
William J. Barton wrote, “The lot where the trees are is at what is now the corner of Summer St. and Water St., Ipswich Mass. At this time there was no street along here. The original picture was made by John Staniford, I’m quite sure. Mr. Edward L. Darling said he lived in Rockport, Mass. He was a brother of Augustin Staniford of Highland Avenue, Ipswich (I knew as a boy) and Mary Jane Staniford a sister I knew and also a sister Mary S. Staniford of Summer St. I can remember as a boy around 1894 there was a very old house next to this, owned by a Mr. Ephraim Grant, a boatman that was torn down, quite sure in 1961. Mr.
Franklin Waters’ History of Ipswich speaks about a grant or deed of land to him. Next to the Grant house was a boat house, large building, for storing yachts and boats for winter, owned by Howard C. Dodge.
The next long building was part of Choate Shipyard. Charles Choate moved from Essex in 1834, built ships at Bakers Wharf. He had two sons, Edward W. Choate and Lewis, from the Directory 1888. Baker’s Wharf must afterward have been called Choates Wharf around 1900. Charles Choate afterward moved his shipyard at the foot of Green St. where the Green Street bridge now is. The next house in the picture was the Choate house. Herbert Choate, my age, lived here as a boy. His father must have been Lewis Choate. Edward W. Choate, who lived at 12 East Street in my time built ships at Rogers Point at the Rogers property, just opposite Ring Bolt Rock, just below the lower wharf he built the Lucy K. Cogswell in 1868, and the red Gray in 1869 (my father William E. Barton sailed in the Fred Gray). He built the Mattie G. in 1875 and the steamer Carlotta in 1878. Fred Gray was lost in the West Indies. Lucy K. Cogswell ended up at the bottom of the harbor at Edgartown.
The 3 little shacks to the right of the first house were clam houses. Men who dug clams kept their gear here and shucked their clams as is quite evident by the pile of white clams on the bank. Three dorys used to go clamming. Beyond the last shanty is a little bridge made of rails (thick boards) that spanned a brook the length of Dodges field through the land of John F. Barton and William E. Barton and across Summer St.to this side of Green St.
Photo by Edward L. Darling
William J. Barton wrote, “What is now Water Street, Ipswich, Mass. from right to left: Howard C. Dodge boat house, Ephraim Grant house. The boat house burned down,and the Grant house was torn down around 1958. The next house is still standing on the lot this side of Summer Street house. Beyond on left are fish houses, and clam houses running from Summer St.on what is now Water Street, once called “Clam Shell Alley.” Photo by Edward L. Darling
Water Street: A shipyard was in operation here in 1673, and it was also the location of a tannery as early as 1640, thought to have continued until the 1690’s. In 1652, this location was being used for the manufacture of salt from seawater. This was also one of 3 locations along the river where the Choate Family operated a shipyard. In 1756 a wharf was built across the river from this area, and was often used for unloading molasses from the West Indies for use in the distillery. John S. Glover operated a coal wharf at this location. (From “The Industrial History of the Ipswich River.”) Photo by George Dexter
Clam boats on Water St. with Glover’s Wharf in the background. Photo by Arthur Wesley Dow.
Clam shacks on Water St, low tide, by Arthur Wesley Dow.
Glazier-Sweet house on Water St. Photo by Arthur Wesley Dow.
Mid-19th Century photo of Water St. and Clam Shell Alley by John Staniford, from the collection of William J. Barton
Another view of Summer St. from Turkey Shore by George Dexter.
Water St. (Clam Shell Alley) Arthur Wesley Dow
Shanties on Water St., Arthur Wesley Dow
Clamshell Alley at 12 Water St., Arthur Wesley Dow
This photo was shared with us by Bill Barton, from the collection of his grandfather, William J. Barton.
Water St. boats on Ipswich River.
Herman Melanson’s Boatyard on Water Street burned in a spectacular fire on August 7, 2009.The boathouse was constructed by Herman Melanson’s father in 1954 and was also his residence. The entire building, three boats and several vehicles were destroyed. In previous years, Melanson’s boathouse had been an active boat-building facility. Mr. Melanson and his health-care worker managed to escape. This video was posted on Youtube by Donald Freyleue.