A friend of mine mentioned that a few years ago a realtor was getting ready to go out the front door at the Jonathan Pulcifer house on Summer Street, when he noticed a stack of old publications sitting on the bottom step, and oddly enough, on top was an old article about him when he was a younger man. Something drew his attention to the head of the stairs, and there was the ghostly form of an old woman, staring back at him!
People used to say that the ghost of Harry Maine haunted the house that once sat where the garage now stands at the “Jabesh Sweet” house at 32 Water Street. All the ministers of the Town assembled there one day and prayed, and the uncanny doings ceased. Harry Maine was a pirate who ran with a gang of outlaws called “wreckers.” They would build bonfires on the beach to lure ships to the shore at night, then plunder their wrecked ships. Legend says that as punishment Harry was chained to the Ipswich Bar and forced to shovel sand for eternity. When waves crashed over the Ipswich sand bar during storms, locals would say “The Devil is raising Old Harry”.
I asked the “I Grew up in Ipswich” Facebook group if they knew of other haunted houses in Ipswich, and several people mentioned Bill and Janet Craft’s home, the “Wainwright-Treadwell house” on East Street. Catie Gallant-Como says she’s heard many ghosts stories from the house. An old story is told of a beautiful young Treadwell daughter who saw the ghost of her deceased evil sister in the well, and died of fright. Bill and Janet were careful not to frighten their kids with the stories, but a couple of odd things happened anyway. Soon after moving in, a lamp fell off a table in the “haunted room” in the middle of the night. They learned that this was apparently a tradition for new owners of the house! Their young son came into the kitchen one day and asked why there was a bloody skeleton lying on the floor in the front room by the fireplace!
Chuck Amerio recalls seeing ghosts at several places, “Yes the Craft house. Also there’s the old Johnson house across the street from my Grandfather’s house on East Street where an old captain kept his mentally challenged daughter in the attic. My sister and I both saw her.”
Lynne Stevens commented, “Small world! I was chatting with a customer last night up here in NH and we got on this subject. He says he lived in the Widow Fuller house on Summer Street in the 80’s. He had some pretty spooky stories about ghosts in that house!
Susan Como Swoboda tells us that the house she was raised in on Ryan Avenue was haunted. “After we moved they were actually seen! I wanted to see them!” Shelly Higgins Mandel also says, “My old house on Ryan Ave!!!!” Gail Horsman Lull tells us that Mrs. Rice at Turner Hill has been seen many times!
Vance Auclair’s house on Sawyer Street
Colleen Kelley Sweeney told me to ask Vance, Richard or Robert Auclair about the house they lived in not far from the wharf. Sally Hulbert Arledge confirmed that “Vance’s old house on Sawyer Street was haunted, as well as the “barn” that was down the road. Richard E. Auclair Sr. also confirmed the haunting: “I lived in a haunted house on Sawyer Street, and I can tell you a few stories!”
Dale Spaulding witnessed a ghost at Donald Oakes’ old home, the Treadwell-Hale house on North Main Street: “She whispered by the top of the stairs back and forth towards the rear bedroom – I saw this many times- scared me half to death at first, but got used to her!” Donald says he never saw the ghost, but many people did!
Bob Kay says, “The little gift shop next to the police station is haunted.”
The Richards house at 8 Kimball Avenue was moved to this location from Lords Square in 1940
Jane Moon Madden says, “Call me crazy but we lived in a house at 8 Kimball Avenue and I am sure we had a tall man who used to pull the blankets off my oldest daughter. She keep saying it was the tall man with the hat on. Every night it was the same thing. I thought she was kicking them off until I saw it happen with my own eyes. Never anything violent, just play stuff. Doors that were latched opening up!” This is the old Richards House that once sat at Lords Square. In 1940 the home was moved over the High Street bridge to this location and Mutual built a new service station which now houses Tick’s Auto Service. Bonnie Burns Giangrande also experienced hauntings while babysitting for Jane’s daughter and two other families who also lived in the house. She says the hauntings always happened in the attic. Dina Chiappini experienced these occurrences with her, and “we would never sit alone in that house!” Valerie Frederick and Linda Harrington both lived in the house and said they never saw anything ghostly.
Bonnie Burns Giangrande tells me that a ghost haunts the William Spiller house just north of the Clam Box on Rt. 1A at 248 High Street. Tim Gillette’s psychic friend told him that she once felt oddly drawn to a corner of the basement, where she uncovered a small box buried in the ground with personal items. Valerie Frederick adds, “My family lived in the Spiller house for years, and yes there are ghosts there. Weird things use to happen. My grandmother never believed my dad until the time she got up in the middle of the night and saw something going across from one room to another.”
The Poly Dole house on East Street was built in 1720 and is where John Updike lived for a decade.
Robbin L Muise commented, “I have stories about the Polly Dole house. Haunted? Yes, indeed! There is a woman in white that only stays upstairs. My Mom (who’s clairvoyant) saw a Patriot soldier walk down the stairs and into the living room. I used to hear whispering all the time upstairs. Most importantly though, my son’s room (which is the smallest bedroom next to the bathroom) was the habitation of a young girl appoximately 12-14 yrs. old. She had blond braided hair, in Victorian garb (High collared white blouse that buttoned down the back, long skirt, and shoes that laced up. She would frequent his Lazy boy, or sit on the end of his bed. Also, I used to stand at the top of the stairs and sang (for the acoustics were awesome). One day, I’m singing, and a loud stomp of a boot sounded right behind me. Needless to say, I stopped singing and booked it down stairs, lol. That was the only time I was scared. It’s a great old house.”
Pam Foley Hiner says, “The two houses I lived in were both haunted. The Oleks’ house on Green Street, and the house on High Street. I saw ghosts in both places. A lot of old houses, a lot of ghosts!”
Margot Fisher Sherwood heard ghost stories about the “brown saltbox on outer High Street” where the Stevens used to live, just before the Rowley line. This is the “Aaron Jewett House“. Joe Prosser agrees: “The Stevens house definitely has a ghost. I stayed there many times since our families were close friends. I remember locking the attic door myself and getting up in the night and seeing it open and then close by itself. It was a friendly ghost! I Love that house!
Jeff Bourgeois says, “I think that old brown house at Linebrook Road and Route 1 (The John Foster House) is haunted. I swear I saw someone in the window with the white curtains.” The story of the John Foster house was told as an entertaining story by travelers far and wide: “His title was corporal, his trade blacksmith, his business landlord and his sign read: ” I shoe the horse, I shoe the ox, I carry the nails in my box, I make the nail, I set the shoe And entertain some strangers too.” At times he would not reply when questioned unless addressed by his title. He was as obliging and generous as he was eccentric.”
The Sherborne Wilson – Samuel Appleton house on South Main Street was built in 1685.
JoAnn Wentworth wrote that the Sherborne Wilson-Samuel Appleton house on South Main Street next to the Choate Bridge is haunted. “I lived in one of the front appartments and Sarah Appleton was very active to both myself and my neighbors across the hall. There were rocking chairs rocking, lights on and off,and once via Ouija board she told us she died of a “crag”….one definition I found was describing a respiratory infection.
The Captain McMahon house at the corner of Turkey Shore and Labor in Vain Roads
A sea captain named McMahon built the large late 3rd Period (Federal era) house at 2 Labor in Vain Road on the corner with Turkey Shore Road in 1832. Some people say the house is haunted.
In 1969 the Ipswich police received a call about a domestic dispute between a couple residing at 5 Spring Street. As they ascended the stairs to the second floor apartment where the couple had been arguing, they were met by a barrage of bullets from the man, who barely missed them.
The “Henderson” house at 5 Spring Street in Ipswich, site of a shootout with the police in 1969.
A shootout ensued, but the shooter finally was finally removed from the home, sent to the State Hospital, and no one was seriously injured. The man apparently had mental health and alcohol problems, and is no longer living. Heather Titilah Vieira lived in the house later and felt that it was haunted. “I always heard noises along the side of the house facing #3, rapping noises, thumping noises, creaks on the inside stairs. – we’d look out the door and windows to see if someone was there and never saw anyone!”