Lord’s Square today
Lord’s Square was known as Brewer’s Corner in early Ipswich. John Brewer was a town clerk and being on what was then the outskirts of town owned a large lot, which he divided into sections and sold. Brewer’s First Period home at 82 High Street was built in 1700 and still stands just north of Dunkin Donuts. Eventually High Street was lined with homes belonging to the Lord Family. Asa Lord owned and operated a store at what is now the bewildering intersection of Linebrook, Market, High, Short and Liberty Streets as well as Rt. 133 and Rt. 1A.
Lord’s Square circa 1940. Asa Lord’s Store has been removed but the service station has not been built
This old photo above is from the first half of the 20th Century and shows Lord’s Square from a similar viewpoint as the photo at the top of this page. Three buildings remain today– the old firehouse on the far right, the former Marcorelle’s Store on the far left, and the Paine School in the middle. Asa Lord’s store faced High Street and would have been approximately where the traffic island is now, and had already been split apart and moved to two separate locations as residences. The Prime service station sits today in the triangular patch between the two trees. The two buildings between the right tree and the old fire station on the far right are gone. The chimneys on the large two story Georgian house that sat at 1 Linebrook Road in 1994 can be seen over the roof of the smaller house that was demolished to build the building that is now a laundromat.
Marcorelle’s store is on the left and the Richards house is on the right
On the left side of the photo is Marcorelle’s store, still in use on Short Street. The two buildings to the right of Marcorelle’s are gone, replaced by a service station that is now Tick’s Auto Repair. Harold Bowen wrote in “Tales of Olde Ipswich” that there was a store at this location as well, owned by the Richards family. Perhaps it was the smaller of the two buildings. The Richards home is the larger one with the dark windows. In 1960 the home was moved to 8 Kimball Avenue where it still stands today, and Mutual built a new service station.
The Richards house being moved from Lord’s Square up High Street to Kimball Avenue in June, 1940.
Harold Bowen wrote in Tales of Olde Ipswich (1975)“I would like to take you back to when I was a small boy and was attending the Payne School. The Square looked very different from the way it appears today. As I rode down High Street on the old trolley car on the way to school, when the motorman would start ringing the bell I knew we were about to enter Lords Square. It was so named because of the Lord family who owned the store in the square for so many years. It was a general store and everything was sold from hardware to groceries. There were always a few old codgers sitting around the stove, discussing and trying to settle the affairs of the town. The store, before it was taken down in 1947 was later owned by the Marcaurelle brothers, and of course finally the Colonial Gas Co. built the now-existing gas station. Across the street on Central Street where the Mutual station is now, was another store owned by the Richards family…How I would like to hold a magic want at least for a moment and wipe away all these gas stations and unsightly corners and drift back 50 years and ride the old trolley through Lord Square!” –HAROLD D. BOWEN
Although members of the Lord Family were among the first Methodists in Ipswich, there has never been a ”method” to the madness at Lord’s Square. High Street was the main thoroughfare on the north side of town. It was the point at which Boxford Road (now Linebrook) branched off to the west, and Gravel Street (Liberty and Washington Streets) looped around a wetland called Farley Brook. That would later be filled in to create Central Street in the middle of the 19th Century. At first Central intersected Liberty Street at a right angle. Lord’s Square was reconfigured to accommodate traffic flow in 2000. Its a long-standing tradition in Ipswich to complain about any change, and the reconfigured intersection is certainly no exception. A motorist attempting to cross from lower High Street to Linebrook Road must make a sharp left turn around a traffic island where cars are often backed up for the Dunkin Donuts or the service station.
Closeup from 1893 Birds Eye Map of Ipswich. Today’s street names have been superimposed, and Lord’s Square is circled.
Lord’s Square is surrounded by historic buildings and homes. The 1725 Nathaniel Lord house and the First Period John Kimball house sit at east side of the intersection just past the Old North Burying Ground. The 1720 Wood-Lord house is the last house on the west side before the square, and the First Period John Brewer house is the next house on that side, just past the square. The Woodbury house at the beginning of Linebrook Road is a charming Colonial Revival home. A short distance beyond it on Linebrook Road is the Old Cross Farm, built in 1716. The large yellow Collins house on Central Street is an impressive example of Victorian architecture, and across the street from it is a handsome row of late 19th Century homes built in the “Second Empire” style. On Liberty Street the Levi Howe house was built in a modest Gothic Revival style and the George Brown house across the street from it is a wonderful Victorian home with a wrap-around porch. Indeed Lord’s Square has traditionally served as an important commercial crossroad where diverse Ipswich neighborhoods converged.
The Payne School was built nearer High Street on Lord’s Square in 1802. It was moved to its current location in 1891. The smaller building to the left was moved and is still in use as the gatehouse to Highland cemetery off of Town Farm Road
Little remains to remind of us of how the square itself once looked. The Old Payne School building built in 1802 is the most visible remaining historic building. It’s original location was next to the old fire station, the site of the current laundromat. In 1891 a small knoll known as Gander Hill was leveled and the school was moved across the Square to its current location. A second floor was added at that time, and the building still serves as the office for the Superintendent of Ipswich Schools. In 1994, a 243-year-old Georgian-era house across from the Payne School at 1 Linebrook Road (in Lord’s Square next to the laundromat) was demolished and replaced with a small commercial building that is currently a sports rehab center.
Asa Lord’s Store, early 20th Century. The front side facing High Street was moved to East Street near the wharf. The rear section facing Lord’s Square was moved to Pleasant Avenue. The houses in the rear right were at the location now occupied by Tick’s Automotive.
Asa Lord’s Dry Goods, before the automotive age and utility poles. Liberty Street (known then as Gravel Street) is in the distance to the left of the small school building. Payne School just out of the picture on the right, still stands.
Asa Lord’s market opened in 1826, and he probably could have had plenty of customers just from his own relatives. Fifteen generations of the Lord family are buried in the Old Burying Ground across High Street. The store served as a de facto neighborhood community center, where people would sit out front and chat. It was said that when the Lord’s Store closed in 1930 old stock was piled throughout the upstairs stockroom in “the wildest confusion” with goods dating back to before the Civil War. In the book Ipswich Yesterday, Alice Keenan reported that the store was closed in order to accommodate a gasoline station. “There was a great deal of objection to the gasoline station from the abuttors…eventually the proponents gained their way and Lord’s Square began its slow slide into rampant commercialism”. Old traditions die hard, and men from the town continued to stop in and chat in the Esso service station!
Marcorelle Bros on
Lord’s Square, circa 1940. The building is still in use, an attractive store on Short Street.
The rear ell of the building cannot be seen in the above photo. It was moved to 24 Mount Pleasant Avenue and still exists today. Bill Varrell in Ipswich, Images of America states that the front building was moved to East Street, and Alice Keenan says it became the home of the St. Laurent family, behind Alyce’s Variety store (now the Ipswich General Store) on East Street. The building was altered considerably; here’s a current photo. The French Canadian Marcorelle Brothers also operated a store at Lord’s Square in a building constructed in 1872 which had once been Asa Lord’s barn. That building is still in use today, looking quite attractive on Short Street behind the service station. The 1872 map indicates a building at this location under the name L. Caldwell. Burnham’s Grocery was demolished in 1930 to construct a Sunoco Station, which was followed by a Richdale store, and converted to the current Dunkin Donuts
Burnham’s Grocery was demolished in 1930 to construct a Sunoco Station, which was followed by a Richdale store, and converted to the current Dunkin Donuts
Across from Asa Lord’s at the current location of Dunkin Donuts was a grocery. Norman James Bowles moved from Boyleston, N.S. and adopted the local spelling Bolles. He married into the Lord family and ran this grocery store. Clement Bowles ran the store after his brother’s death. By the time of its closing in the early 1900′s it was known as Burnham’s Grocery. It was demolished to build a Sunoco station in 1930, which became a Richdales and is now Dunkin Donuts.
The old Lord’s Square Fire Station still stands today next to Dunkin Donuts
To the left of it still stands the former Lord’s Square fire station. The empty yellow building between Dunkin Donuts and the laundromat was constructed between 1865 and 1872. Despite its neglected appearance and the boxy additions it once served as one of the town’s three fire stations, housing engine #2, the Neptune. The other two companies were on Warren Street and in the Candlewood neighborhood. The fire station had a bell tower in the front and a tall hose-drying tower in the rear. The “Neptune” was the town’s “hand tub” fire engine and was housed in this building.
The two photos above are looking north on High Street from Lord’s Square in the early 1900′s, and in fall of 2013. The white house was removed to create parking for the building that is now Dunkin Donuts. The red John Brewer house beyond it still stands today.
Lord’s Square map 1872
Street names have been updated in the 1832 and 1872 maps above. The primary difference is that Central Street has been created, originally ending at Liberty Street before the intersection was redesigned.
1641 map from “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony” shows Lord’s Square when it was known as Brewer’s Corner.
In the first half of the 20th Century fine old homes and neighborhood storesat Lord’s Square were demolished and replaced by small cheap service stations, one converted to Dunkin Donuts and another into an auto repair shop. I suppose we can thank Henry Ford for helping destroy what was once a neighborhood center with two groceries, a small school and a fire station. Lord’s Square is slowly being demoted to the drive-through center of Ipswich. Rite Aid occupies the location of the former supermarket on the corner of Liberty and Central. Next to it is a drive-through for a bank. At the next turn people line up for cheap gas at the one remaining service station and hold up traffic trying to turn in for donuts on the other side of the street. A partnership that owns the Dunkin Donuts, the old fire station and the laundromat wants to push them all over and build a bigger drive-through Dunkin Donuts.
Lord’s Square on the left, and the South Green on the right, shown in the same scale on Google Maps. Both intersections carry Routes 1A and 133, but the South green has more green space, less asphalt, and better traffic flow. Lord’s Square has six pedestrian crossings, while South Green has only three. The one-way road at South Green gives cyclists a safe way around the intersection at South Green.
The configuration of Lord’s Square is similar to the South Green. Both carry Rt. 1A and 133 and both are winding. Both streets are lined with historic houses and have a cemetery nearby. South Green once had a grocery and school buildings as well. In the 1950′s A&P moved from downtown when it built a new store in Lord Square in the building that now the Rite Aid. What South Green has and Lords Square does not is a Green. Even old photos show Lord’s Square mostly devoid of trees. It’s a perfect place to demonstrate the value of street beautification by planting trees along the road as a visual break between the vast areas of pavement. Future attempts to fix Lord’s Square should include increased green space and make the northern entrance to downtown Ipswich more visually appealing.
Lord’s Square is in the General Business zoning district and historically was a commercial center for the northern part of town. Although the larger shopping center is now further north on upper High Street, the Square continues to be home to various businesses. Once-historic Lord’s Square abuts still-historic High Street with the largest collection of First Period houses in America. Instead of demolishing the last historic buildings within the Square we should focus on the larger picture of correcting two centuries of misguided roadwork, making the Square attractive and accessible. With many people living within walking distance of Lord’s Square, this could help bring back one of our most historic traditions, a walkable Ipswich, not a drive-through Ipswich.