The Old Tann Fatts

John Fiske lives in the Glazier-Sweet house on Water Street in Ipswich

This article is by John Fiske, a member of the Ipswich Historical Commission and owner of Fiske and Freeman Fine and Early Antiques on South Main Street.

We have a dear friend who has moved three or four times since we’ve known her. And each time, she and her husband have bought or built a new house. As she said to us once, “I can’t stand the thought of living in a house that someone else has lived in.” At the very least, that proves that friendship can survive extreme differences of taste.

I love the fact that our house is fast approaching its 300th birthday and that the lives of many local families are now silently embedded in it. It is more than a human habitation, it’s a sign of human continuity. But the family that touches me most closely never lived in this house at all. They lived on the same lot, but in a house that was torn down to make way for this one in about 1725. I suspect we share the same field stone cellar, but that, apart from the river, is all that we do have in common.

glazier_sweet_dowI just came across an old book by Alice Keenan, an enthusiastic local historian who was working about 70 years ago. And of course, I was delighted to find that it contained a photograph of our house taken in 1894. We already own an 1891 ink wash of the house by the celebrated Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow (I’d come across it in a small local auction and was the only bidder. How often does that happen in these days of the Internet!) The photo and the painting of our house when it was not yet 200 years old – – each enriches the other and I love seeing our house as others saw it more than a century ago. Continue reading

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Measures’ Candy Shop

Measures’ Candy Shop was apparently a long-lasting institution in Ipswich. It was first located in a small building on North Main Street that was moved in order to construct the Colonial Building in 1904. The store moved down the hill to Central Street and was in the storefront that now houses Zabaglione Restaurant. It was owned and operated by Austin Measures who lived on Turkey Shore Road.

This photo is taken from about the same time as the one above, judging by the electric lighting.

This photo appears to be the inside of Measures’ Candy Store, taken from about the same time as the one above, judging by the electric lighting.

This is the Austin Measures house on Turkey Shore Road, built in 1874.

This is the Austin Measures house is on Turkey Shore Road, built in 1874

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You’re invited! Learn about the APD

Ipswich Historical Commission member John Fiske and Elizabeth Freeman live in the 1728 Glazier-Sweet house at 12 Water Street

Thanks to John Fiske of the Ipswich Historical Commission for the text of this post.

As we all know, Ipswich has 59 first period houses (more than any other town in the nation) together with numerous eighteenth and nineteenth-century houses of equal merit.

Architecturally speaking, Ipswich is a town of major historical significance. Without its historic houses, Ipswich would be a pleasant but undistinguished town, with little to draw visitors except Crane Beach. As a town, Ipswich is defined by its architectural heritage.


The view of Water Street in this old postcard shows Summer Street climbing on the right and has changed very little over time.

None of this historic architecture is protected against the future. To set this matter right, the Ipswich Historical Commission is proposing an Architectural Preservation District (APD). The proposal will be put to the town for a vote at the Town Meeting in October, 2014.

Proposed Architectural Preservation District (unofficial map)

Current proposed area of the Architectural Preservation District (unofficial). May change before being presented to Town Meeting. The current draft encompasses an area roughly defined as 223 acres beginning at South Green, continuing along the river to the Town Wharf, East and High Streets to the High Street Bridge, North Main Street and Meeting House Green.

Continue reading

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The Fox Creek Canal

This article is by John Fiske, a member of the Ipswich Historical Commission and owner of Fiske and Freeman Fine and Early Antiques on South Main Street.

John Fisk on the Canal

John Fiske on the Fox Creek  Canal

Memorial Day, 2014: 76º, humid, hazy clouds, and the end of a long spell of unseasonably cool weather. Just the day for our first cruise of the season, puttering among the salt marshes in our little boat. One of our favorite routes is go down the Ipswich River almost to the ocean and then turn right and head upstream, winding up Fox Creek. I particularly enjoy Fox Creek for the way it intertwines landscape and history — you can’t separate one from the other, not that I would ever want to. They both turn me on.

Robinson’s Boatyard was a busy place during WWII

On the second bend of the creek, we swing to port (that’s to the left, for you landlubbers) and there on our starboard (on the right, get it?) are rows of old, rotting wooden piles. They are all that remains of a surprising boat shop.

Just before WWII, William Robinson began building replica sailing ships here, but the war changed his business. Wooden hulled boats made ideal mine sweepers – mines were magnetic and their hulls were not. Robinson’s boat yard produced up to 200 vessels for the US Navy, but all that remains now are slowly rotting piles – the channel that they had to dredge to accommodate the ships has filled back in, and Fox Creek is once again as it always was.

All that remains of Robinson's Shipyard

All that remains of Robinson’s Shipyard

Continue reading

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East End Open Studio July 18-20


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Wreck of the Edward S. Evelyth

Shipwreck2 In October 1922 the sand schoonerEdward S. Evelyth rolled over when a wave rushed over her deck and pushed her onto the edge of Steep Hill Beach. Filled with sand, each tide buried her deeper. Her remains were visible for several years.

Wreck of the Ada K. Damon Continue reading

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Summer concerts by the Ipswich Community Band

The Ipswich Summer band with conductor Nalani Fujiwara

The Ipswich Community Band, led by Nalani Fujiwara has 3 performances coming up this month; 2 are outdoors and are weather dependent.  For those concerts, you may want to bring your own chairs.  The third will be a complete performance, rain or shine, at the Ipswich performing Arts Center (IPAC) at Ipswich High School.  The band, composed of musicians of all ages, will play a wide range of music, including pop tunes, marches and light classical pieces.  Admission is free.  All venues are in Ipswich.

Performance Dates and times are as follows:

  • Wednesday, July 23rd – Cable Gardens, 7:00 Concert
  • Sunday, July 27th – Hall-Haskell Green, 5:00 Concert
  • Wednesday, July 30th – Ipswich High Auditorium (IPAC), 7:00 Concert
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Dover MA mourns the death of historic house

The oldest house still sitting on its original site in Dover MA was demolished on July 14 by its owner, after a 9 year effort by preservationists to save the building.

The Joseph Draper house, built in 1724, was the oldest house in Dover MA until it was demolished yesterday, July 14, 2014. The owner resisted efforts by preservationists to relocate the building.

The Joseph Draper house in Dover MA has been demolished by its owner.

Like Ipswich, Dover has a one year demolition delay bylaw, and also like Ipswich, the town has no permanent legal means by which to preserve it architectural and historical heritage. Citizens of the town of Ipswich will vote at the Fall 2014 Town Meeting on a proposal for an Architectural Preservation District which will preserve the downtown areas listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but will not include the unpopular dictates often included in local historic districts.

This historic house on Farm Street is now lost forever.

This nearly 300 year-old  house on Farm Street in Dover MA is now gone forever.


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