The Heard house on South Main Street is a Federal-style structure built in 1795 by wealthy John Heard. Before the Revolutionary War he had invested in the rum factory on Turkey Shore Road along the river bank where they unloaded barrels of West Indies molasses, and he later helped start the Ipswich Mills. His son Augustine Heard owned clipper ships and competed with those of Salem and Boston in the China trade. Augustine retired to Ipswich and started the Ipswich Manufacturing Company in 1828 with Joseph Farley, building a new dam and the Old Stone Mill.

Federal (or Federalist) houses represent a clean break from English architectural influence after the Revolutionary War. Like Georgians, they can be side-gabled but the larger homes frequently are designed with a low-pitched hip roof and side chimneys rather than a single central chimney. Door surrounds were often elaborate with sidelights and transoms. Elliptical fanlights are found on almost all Federal homes and are a distinguishing characteristic. Entry porticoes, rarely seen on Georgian homes are common on Federal houses. Outside of New England, homes built during this period are often more elaborate and the style is called “Adam.” Three Adam brothers from Scotland elaborated on the more practical Georgian style, adding swags, garlands, urns, and Neoclassical details.

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The Heard House was purchased by the Ipswich Historical Society from the Heard family in 1939. With the additional space, the Society was able to expand its program to showcase later centuries of Ipswich history including a collection of works by the nineteenth century “Ipswich Painters, “including Society founder Arthur Wesley Dow, as well as other collections dating to the early twentieth century. It is now the Ipswich Museum.