County Street is in the Ipswich Architectural Preservation District and has some of the oldest houses in town. The section between East and Summer Streets was originally called Cross St, and the section between the County Street bridge and Poplar Street was known as Mill St. The roads were connected when the County Street Bridge was constructed in 1861. It continues as County Road beyond the South Green. Some of the houses listed below stand at the intersection of County and adjoining streets.
Richard Rindge (also spelled Ringe) acquired the lot at 5 County St., with a house already on it, in 1718. It is assumed that Richard Rindge built this houseja after he purchased the lot, but the possibility remains that this is the earlier dwelling. The house was inherited by Richard’s son (also named Richard), who sold it to John Pinder. Pinder’s widow Sarah sold the house to William Leatherland in 1799. Phillip Clark bought the house, which is where he operated an undertaker’s and cabinet shop. The 1856 village map identifies the house as “I. Dodge, Shoe Manufacturing” with an empty lot on the corner.
The house at 7 County Street dates to two periods. In 1663 Thomas Dennis built the rear section which has a rough-hewn frame and beveled summer beam indicating it to likely have been a one over one “half house.” The 5-bay front section of the house dates to the 1750s. Thomas Dennis (1638–1706), came from Devonshire, England, where he learned from a tradition of flourished carving. Dennis himself was a master carver, and his work is found at other nearby homes, including the Dennis – Dodge House at the corner of Summer and County Street. His work is shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Concord Antiquarian Society and the Robert Hull Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont.
Stephen Stanwood erected the Stanwood – Willcomb House at the corner of County Street and East Street in 1830 for a fulling mill, a cleaning process for wool. The sheep grazed on the bare hills above East and High Streets, where there were no trees other than orchards. The mill used water that still runs under Spring Street (known then as Brook Street). Lewis Willcomb conducted a general grocery and provision business at this location, known locally as Willcomb’s square, succeeding his brother, Fred Willcomb.
This house at 9 County St. was built early in the 1700’s, and was owned by Benjamin Dutch who owned and sold several properties in the area of North Main and is listed as a Taverner. The house is timber frame, 2 stories with end gables an ells on the side and rear. The front facade is asymmetrical. The first Benjamin Dutch in town records was born in 1664 to Robert Dutch and Mary Kimball. Several generations by the name of Benjamin Dutch were real estate dealers, and their names will be found in the deed histories of dozens of houses in Ipswich.
The 1740 Dennis-Dodge house was owned by Captain John Dennis, whose father Thomas was a renowned woodworker and owned a home across the street. Lydia Dodge was the daughter of Nathaniel Dennis and Mary Staniford. Lydia married John Newmarch in 1809. He died three years later, and she then married John Howard Dodge on Nov. 19, 1815 in Ipswich. Their son Captain Ignatius Dodge (1816 – 1901) inherited the house. He was captain of the ship “July Fourth.” The house remained in the family for years. In the early 1800’s, Eunice Hale maintained a school in the building.
Joseph Bennett built this early Second Period house in 1725. In that same year his 25 year old wife Elizabeth died. Bennett then married Mary Jewett, but he died 6 years later at the age of 31, leaving Mary a widow. Early Massachusetts law allowed women to keep only one third of the estate, and Joseph Lakeman Ross purchased the remaining interest. Ross, his wife Mary, and the widow’s (apparent) daughter, a spinster also named Mary Bennett sold the entire house to Daniel Holland in 1796.In 1818 the house was sold to Capt. Sylvanus Caldwell, who engaged in maritime trade along the coast from Massachusetts to Maine for a half century
This house at 15 County Street was built in 1788 for Rev. Levi Frisbie, who was installed as pastor of First Church in Ipswich on Feb. 7, 1776. He remained in that post for thirty years. Rev. Levi Frisbie was born in Branford, Connecticut, 6 July 1748. He graduated with the first class at Dartmouth in 1771, studied theology under the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock at Hanover, and was ordained there in 1772. He at once engaged in missionary service among the Delaware Indians, and afterward labored with the Canadian tribes, and among those in Maine. The mission was ended by the Revolutionary war, and in 1776 he was installed pastor of the 1st Congregationalist Church. He died in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1806.
This home at 16 County St. was built circa 1725-26. Capt. Abraham Knowlton was a jointer and a member of the woodworkers fraternity in 18th century Ipswich. The work of these artisans was very sophisticated according to Sue Nelson, who wrote Capt. Abraham Knowlton, Joiner, and the Seminal Woodworkers of Ipswich, Massachusetts. The house was in poor condition and abandoned during a lengthy dispute about demolishing it to expand the (now closed) Caldwell Nursing Home. In 2003 it was restored and turned into condominiums by Ipswich architect Matthew Cummings.
The house at 17 County Street is on the site where Major General Daniel Dennison built his home in the early 1600’s, but which burned after 25 years. The present house was originally built as a mill near the EBSCO dam in 1843. The building has two historic names, Hoyt’s Veneer Mill, and Perkins & Daniels Stocking Factory. Joseph Felt wrote, “The old saw mill fell into ruin, but a new building for veneer sawing was built by Mr. Benjamin C. Hoyt, about 1843. This was removed by Mr. James M. Wellington about the year 1859, to its present location on County Street.”
Andrew Burley, son of Giles and Elizabeth Burley, was born at Ipswich Sept. 5, 1657. The Andrew Burley House at 12 Green Street was built in 1688, with later Georgian features added. Andrew Burley was a wealthy merchant, justice of the Sessions Court and a was elected as representative to the General Court in 1741. He updated the house with fine Georgian features. Capt John Smith purchased the Andrew Burley house in 1760 from the estate of Andrew Burley’s widow Hannah and operated it as Smith’s Tavern . Susanna (How) Smith ran Smith’s Tavern from 1760 to 1790.
Ascension Memorial Episcopal Church on County Street was designed by famed architect James Renwick Jr. (1818-1895), was constructed in 1869, and is considered “American Gothic Revival” in style.
The elegant Georgian style house at 45 County Street was built in 1814 and sits alongside the Ipswich River.
The Benjamin Grant House at 47 County Street in Ipswich was built in 1735, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It has also been referred to in the past as the Daniel Ross or Joseph Ross house. It is 2 1/2 story end-gable house with a one room deep front section and a rear lean-to. The front of the house is slightly asymmetrical, suggesting that it might have been originally built as a “half house” with the large chimney at the end, and the other half added later, as was common.
When the County street bridge was built in 1860 it joined together Cross and Mill streets, which then became County street, and completely obliterated “Falls Island” which stood in the middle of the river and had always been a busy center of industry since Robert Calef built the first grist mill in 1715. Fulling, saw, grist and woolen mills flourished along with the several small enterprises across the street: saw, box and veneer mills. In time the mill burned down, the smaller mills closed their doors, and all that’s left to remind us of that long ago time are the three small houses, facing Elm street, and standing more or less on what was Fall’s Island.
In 1963 Kay Thompson and Helen Lunt, two housewives, recognized that chapters of American history, written within the walls of a simple clapboard house slated for destruction in Ipswich, Massachusetts, were in peril. Through their efforts, the historic house was relocated to the Smithsonian where it still resides as the Museum’s largest single artifact on permanent display.
A Federal-era hip roof was replaced by a Mansard roof in the mid-1800s to give it a third floor. The building is known as Swasey’s Tavern, after the town moderator General Swasey who famously fell dead at Town Meeting in 1816. The Swasey Tavern in the 19th Century was a dormitory for the Ipswich Female Seminary, one of the early schools which provided young women with a rigorous academic education. In the fall of 1789 just four months after he took the oath of office, President George Washington visited Ipswich and dined at Susana Homan’s Inn. Crowds awaited him at the South Green where he was welcomed by the Selectmen and a regiment of the militia. At the Inn he partook of a meal and proceeded on to Newburyport.