Despite the early ownership records, there are no indications of First Period construction in this house at 2 Poplar Street. 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 1725 Increase How purchased “a good mansion house”at the corner of County Street and Poplar Street from John Whipple, who had purchased the house from John Ayres in 1705. Ayres built the original structure in 1693. How kept an inn in the house, and after he died in 1754 at the age of 74 his daughter Susanna (who had married Captain Richard Homan) ran the inn. She appears to have been open-minded. In 1756 she received and took in three Catholic families from French-speaking Acadia whose arrival had been anticipated and debated by the Ipswich people for several months.

Swasey’s Tavern, 2 Poplar Street, in 1980. Photo by the Ipswich Historical Commission

In the fall of 1789 just four months after he took the oath of office, President George Washington visited Ipswich and dined at Susanna 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. Susanna Homan, whose tombstone describes her as “fair and good” died three years later at age 66.

The Swasey Tavern, facing Poplar St. In the distance you can see the Cogswell School on Payne Street, and the historic Lakeman and Hodgkins houses at the intersection with Turkey Shore Road.
The Swasey Tavern, facing Poplar St., facing County Rd. and the South Green.  In the distance you can see the Cogswell School on Payne Street, and the historic Heard-Lakeman and Burnham-Patch houses at the intersection with Turkey Shore Road. The old South Congregational Church is out of the photo on the left. Photo by George Dexter, circa 1900.