The Rogers and Brown House (also known as the Nathaniel Rust House) at 83 County Road is a 2 1/2 story end-gable structure with twin rear wall chimneys, heavy timber frame and wood clapboards.
The main part of the house was built before 1750, abutting the Heard House across from South Green at the corner of County Street. The builder is recorded to have been Major Ammi Ruhami Wise, who was the son of Rev. John Wise. It became the residence of Dr. Samuel Rogers, The house was sold to Asa Brown who moved it to the current location on County Road in 1837 so that the Old South Church could be built facing the Green. (The South Parish church burned in 1977.)
Brown remodeled the house after it was moved to this location, changing the look of the original house. There are several periods of construction evident; the front parlor rooms have 10 foot ceilings, while the possibly first-period rear wing has exposed summer beams and low ceilings. The asymmetrical 5 bay façade reflects its early construction while its pilastered entry with side lights and modillion cornice indicate Federal period alterations.
Thomas Franklin Waters writes more about the history of this house in his book, “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.” Read an amusing story at the end of this page about when the house was a school for young ladies
The first known owner of this property was William Goodhue, who owned also owned property west of town and may have built the original Goodhue house on Topsfield Road, although the current house is believed to date to the mid 18th-Century.
Goodhue conveyed his house to Nathaniel Rust in 1665. Rust was a glover whose tanning establishment stood on the present site of this house, which is sometimes erroneously called the “Nathaniel Rust house.” Nathaniel Rust “the glover” took the Ipswich freeman’s oath on May 27, 1674. He was appointed quartermaster in the expedition to Canada on June 19, 1690 and was representative to the legislature in 1690 and 1691.
His father Nathaniel Rust Sen. of Ipswich, also was a glover and died intestate. His sons-in-law Capt. Daniel Ringe and Mr. Thomas Norton were appointed administrators of his estate in December, 1713.
Thomas Franklin Waters recorded that one of Rev. John Wise’s sons, Major Ammi Ruhami Wise may have lived on this property in the old Rust house. Major Wise commanded a company of troops in a military expedition to the Spanish West Indies in the year 1740, was a noted merchant and Justice of the Court of Sessions, and served as representative to the General Court in 1739 and 1740.
“The late Hon. Abram Dodge Waite said that in his boyhood he heard aged people say that Maj. Ammi Ruhami Wise resided in the “Rust house”, sometimes called the “Foster house,” which was built about 1638, and was taken down about 1860.”
In the Antiquarian Papers it is recorded that Major Wise resided in this house when it was on the South Green in the first half of the 18th Century.
“Rev. Augustine Caldwell writes, ‘Major Ammi Ruhami Wise lived on the very site of the present South Church. His house was owned after his death by Dr. Samuel Rogers a most noted physician and strong man of the town whose wife was Major Wise’s daughter.”
Abraham Hammatt in “Early Inhabitants of Ipswich Massachusetts 1633-1700 recorded that “Dr. Rogers’ later home was the house which stood on the site of the present South Meeting house; built by Ammi Ruhamah Wise, and then possessed by Doctor Rogers.” On July 6th, 1749 Major Ammi Ruhami Wise died in Boston at the age of 61 of fever. (source: History of the Town of Essex). Dr. Rogers purchased the property of Daniel Wise in June, 1750.
Major Wise’s daughter Hannah married Dr. Samuel Rogers, a most noted physician and town leader. When Samuel Rogers died in 1772, Hannah was obliged to sell half of her home to cover her husband’s debts. In 1774, she began teaching the girls of Ipswich in her diminished living quarters. Madame Rogers was a singularly intellectual and cultivated woman to whom wealthy families sent their young ladies for assistance with mental development. Saturdays were devoted to the study of 107 questions and answers about God known as the The Shorter Catechism. It was considered the important lesson of the week and no girl could possibly be excused without a most valid reason.
According to an old legend, Lucy Martin was a bright girl with that excess of young life which must find expression. Once, as the girls were arranged before their Instructress to receive the usual Saturday drill, Mrs. Rogers was horrified to hear a titter which amounted to almost a laugh. Her keen eyes ran up and down the class and the trembling Lucy made full confession.
The teacher immediately discoursed upon the sin of laughter as “a crackling of thorns under a pot and vanity” and so glaring did the fault appear that Lucy was not only severely reprimanded but smartly chastised with a rod.
The young ladies were much incensed and determined to justify the sufferer. Accordingly the whole school went to Lucy’s mother, the wife of another respected town physician. As they approached the house they begged of Lucy to cry harder that the indignity might be more apparent.
Mrs Martin quietly listened and then inquired “What did Lucy do?” “She only tittered in Catechism,” they replied. “Tittered in Catechism”, said the astounded Matron. “If my Lucy tittered in Catechism I have not a word to say against the punishment.”