The Ipswich Historical Commission “Partial List of Historic Houses” prepared by Susan Nelson dates the house at 107 Argilla Rd. between 1734 and 1785 with later alterations. However, Thomas Franklin Waters wrote the following for the Ipswich Historical Society in December 4, 1899:

Allen Baker built the substantial hip-roofed farm house nearby early in the present (19th) century. The Allen Baker farm house was purchased by Mr. Ephraim Brown and inherited by his son Thomas, whose widow and son own and occupy the historic spot today.”

Argilla Farm, Ipswich

The story of the original Argilla Farm

The land and marsh on the east side of Labour-in-vain Creek, extending to Northgate Road were bequeathed to John Winthrop in 1634. The Agawam Sagamore Masconomet had controlled the land, and made terms with Winthrop as follows:

I doth testify that I Maskonomet did give to Mr. John Winthrop all that ground that is between the creek commonly called Labour in Vaine Creek & the Creek called Chebacco Creek, for which I do acknowledge to have received full satisfaction in wampampeage & other things and also for the sum of twenty pounds to be paid unto me by the said John Winthrop, I do fully resign all my right of the whole town of Ipswich as far as the bounds thereof shall go, all the woods, meadowes, pastures & broken up grounds, unto the said John Winthrop in the name of the rest of the English there planted.”

In 1637, Winthrop conveyed the land to Samuel Symonds, who became Deputy-Governor of the Colony. After his death the land became the possession of John Baker. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote the history of the estate through the 19th Century:

“The whole western portion of the original Argilla farm seems thus to have come into the possession of John Baker. Colonel Baker died Aug. 1, 1734, aged forty-four, and left the farm to his son John. The latter became a man of large influence and great public usefulness. He was Town Clerk for many years, one of the Committee of Correspondence and Inspection during the Revolution, Colonel of a regiment, feoffee of the Grammar School, and Justice of the Sessions Court, and not least of all, father of twelve children. His town residence was the substantial dwelling on the Heard property, facing the South Green

In the partition of the estate in 1786, the widow received “the southwest end of the mansion in town,” and two acres near the house,’from the house-block southwest by the street, etc,’ with the southwest end of the house at the farm with 33 rods of land bounding on Caldwell’s lane four rods and twenty links, and other lands. John received twenty-five and one half acres in ‘the great pasture,” bounded by ” the highway to the Town” and “the highway leading from Cape Ann to Castle Hill,” with other lands, including Eagle Nest Island. Allen Baker received fifteen acres fronting on the highway, about forty-live rods from Labour-in-vain Bridge to Caldwell’s lane, with the northeast end of the farm house and the new barn, with other land.

After their mother’s death in 1797 John received ‘one acre at the North corner of the close, so called, beginning at the north corner of John’s new dwelling house,’ and Allen, the west end of the old dwelling house, etc., “with all the privileges to said lane (Caldwell’s) which belong to said. Argilla farm.” The ‘new dwelling house,’ of John Baker is now owned and occupied by Mr. Alden Story.

Allen Baker built the substantial hip-roofed farm house nearby early in the present  (19th) century. The Allen Baker farm house was purchased by Mr. Ephraim Brown and inherited by his son Thomas, whose widow and son own and occupy the historic spot today.” —Thomas Franklin Waters, December 4, 1899

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Closeup of the 1834 Ipswich map shows Argilla Farm, with two houses, owned by Ephraim Brown (today’s Argilla Farm house) and the ancient home of John Baker, which no longer stands.
Argilla Farm Ipswich Arthur Wesley Dow
Argilla Road, with Argilla Farm on the right in the distance. Photo by Arthur Wesley Dow, from cyanotype image.

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