Wainwright-Treadwell house, East St., Ipswich MA
Wainwright-Treadwell house, East St., Ipswich MA

Thomas Treadwell arrived in New England in 1635 with his wife and infant son Thomas. Excerpts from his will read that in 1671 he bequeathed to the junior Thomas his property on “Treadwell’s Island” between Labor in Vain Creek and Fox Creek. To his son Nathaniel he gave half of his upland house, barn and meadows, and the other half to his wife as long as she lives. He also gave his wife “the benefit of the keeping of four Cows and six sheep upon the pasture also the Wintering five head of Cattle and six sheep,”plus the firewood from the pasture, “also I give to my wife all my household goods to be at her own disposing.”

The senior Treadwell seemed not to trust his younger son, writing “And if Nathaniel fail of any thing he is to do for my Wife my will is that he shall forfeit ten pound every year he fails.” In 1710 Nathaniel Treadwell sold that dwelling and three and a half acres to John Wainwright, son of Col. John Wainwright.

In 1671 property was purchased by Col. John Wainwright’s father Francis Wainwright on the north side of East Street, opposite the town landing at the location of this house. He deeded the property to his son John in 1675 on his marriage with Elizabeth Norton. He eventually owned almost all the land in front of the docks.

The Wainwright-Treadwell house in the 20th Century

Francis Wainwright arrived in Charleston from Chelmsford, Essex, England in 1630 and moved to Ipswich around 1637. He was among the first to volunteer in the Pequot War against the Indians that same year and distinguished himself for personal bravery.  Over 700 Pequot people were slain or taken prisoner, and only 16 English died.  Wainwright was young and vigorous, firing his musket until his powder and shot were spent, then beating off the enemy with the stock of his gun. For his services in this war Francis Wainwright received a grant from Ipswich. Francis Wainwright became a prominent merchant, and was the beneficiary of his wife’s inherited estate. He expanded his estate, eventually owning a large area of land on East Street near the town wharf

Col. John Wainwright was one of the most important men of his day, a Representative, Justice of the Sessions Court, and Colonel of a Regiment. Francis Wainwright arrived in Charleston from Chelmsford, Essex, England in 1630 and moved to Ipswich around 1637. He was among the first to volunteer in the Pequot War against the Indians that same year and distinguished himself for personal bravery. Over 700 Pequot people were slain or taken prisoner, and only 16 English died. Wainwright was young and vigorous, firing his musket until his powder and shot were spent, then beating off the enemy with the stock of his gun. For his services in this war Francis Wainwright received a grant from Ipswich. Francis Wainwright became a prominent merchant, and was the beneficiary of his wife’s inherited estate. He expanded his estate, eventually owning a large area of land on East Street near the town wharf.

The Treadwell – Wainwright house that sits on that location was built by his son John Wainwright. John Wainwright maintained several trusts, was Representative to the General Court in 1696 and 1698, and Justice of the Sessions Court until the year before his death at age 60 in 1708. His estate at his death was valued at £20,000. The large cellar in the center of the lot, still known traditionally as the Wainwright lot, marks the site of his spacious mansion. Fifteen acres were sold Oct. 25, 1726 including a new house not finished (which is this house). The entire Col. John Wainwright estate was sold on May 3, 1746 and the Wainwright – Treadwell House at 62 East St. appears to be the only building from that tract.

The house is currently owned by Ipswich selectman William Craft and his wife Janet, who were told by locals that it is haunted. There is an old story about Col John Wainwright’s sister. Their mother Phillipa (first wife of Francis Wainwright) died in 1669. Mary was the oldest daughter so she inherited her mother’s fine clothing and jewels. She was unhealthy and died five years later. On her deathbed she bitterly promised a curse on her pretty young sister Martha if she wore the fine clothes after her death. Mary resisted for years, but eventually her resolve was weakened by a crush on a charming young man from England. She dressed in Mary’s finest and went outside to see her reflection in the well. Seeing Mary’s face in the well instead, she went into shock and fainted, and was carried to her bedroom where she was discovered dead the next day alongside her faithful servant Chloe. An old well exists on this property. The story, however is not historically correct. Mary and her mother did die as told, but Martha Wainwright married Joseph Proctor and had ten children, including daughters also named Mary and Martha.

This house is protected by a preservation agreement between the owners and the town of Ipswich. Protected elements include:

  • Front facade
  • Frame, primary and secondary members
  • Central chimney
  • Selected wooden architectural elements including molding, paneling, mantelpiece, doors

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There is raised-field paneling in the center of the front right corner room, and more raised field paneling on the walls throughout. The rear hall has a fine hand-turned balustrade, leading into a keeping room with a large fireplace. The photos below are of preserved features in the Wainwright – Treadwell house.