The Caldwell Block at the corner of South Main and Market Street is the oldest large building in the commercial section of Ipswich. The photos below show that despite the change of establishments, the building has remained much the same. The Choate Bridge Pub anchors the corner now, but when John Updike had his office upstairs, it was the Dolphin Restaurant.
Dr. Manning’s Windmill
In 1792 Dr. John Manning erected a factory at the corner of South Main and Market Streets beside the Choate Bridge, and began the manufacture of coarse cloths and blankets in 1794. The completed building was two stories high, 105 feet long and 32 feet wide. On the roof squatted a great octagonal tower, inside of which were the arms and sails of a horizontal windmill by which it was proposed to operate the machinery.
The design and location at the bottom of the hill were inefficient, and if it ever did operate, the rotating assembly would surely have been noisy. The business quickly proved unprofitable and was given up in 1800. Dr. Manning’s ambitious enterprise was eventually reduced to a row of mundane stores and offices known as the Coburn Block. When the old building burned to the ground in 1869, it was quickly replaced by the present Caldwell Block.
The windmill sketch was by 12-year-old Mary Jane Derby of Salem. Half a century later she drew the illustration of the Coburn block (minus the windmill), which was reproduced on the cover of the 1966 Annual Report.