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The Whipple House
[photo courtesy of The Ipswich Historical Society]

Architecture in Ipswich*

Known locally as “America’s Authentic Colonial Town,” Ipswich, Massachusetts, contains more houses built during the “first period” of American architecture (1625-1725) than any other town in the country—58 in all. Unlike other older communities that were able to preserve individual examples of these timber-frame structures, visitors to Ipswich are able to see whole “streetscapes” of these early houses and truly feel transported to the 17th century. A fine example of colonial/post-medieval architecture, the 1677 Whipple House (shown above), is owned by the Ipswich Historical Society and it is open to the public.

While Ipswich never achieved the enormous wealth of the nearby 18th-century shipping ports of Salem and Newburyport where magnificent mansions still dominate historical neighborhoods, fine examples of Georgian and Federal period architecture remain in Ipswich (especially the Ipswich Historical Society’s 1795 Heard House) as well as later examples of Italianate and Victorian houses and public buildings (like the grand 1868 Ipswich Public Library).

Like many towns engaged in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, great brick mill buildings lined the Ipswich River. In the 20th century, EBSCO Publishing Company converted one of these mill complexes into a modern office campus with walkways, a park, and Ipswich history mural for the enjoyment of the public.

Late in the 19th century and early 20th century, wealthy out-of-towners built magnificent mansions in Ipswich where they could “summer”near the ocean. The finest example is the 1928 Great House of the Crane Estate, built by plumbing magnate Richard Crane and which is currently owned by The Trustees of Reservations. Another example is the estate of diplomat Bradley Palmer, which is being restored and re-opened to the public.

Today, architecture in Ipswich is characterized by preservation and innovation—the preservation of our historical architectural resources, and the creation of “green roofs” and alternative energy sources as new buildings are constructed (the dramatic New England Biolabs is a fine example).

Architecturally, Ipswich is truly an outdoor “classroom” of the full range of architectural styles.

Visit us, and see for yourself!


*Ipswich was settled in 1633 by John Winthrop Jr., the son of the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and 12 other men of high standing. The area was then known as “Agawam” by the Native Americans, who had populated the area for thousands of years before English traders and colonists arrived. Winthrop and his colleagues negotiated agreements with the Sachem of the Agawam, Masconomet. No examples of early Native American buildings survive, but visitors may soon see examples at Salem in 1630: Pioneer Village in Salem, Mass.


by Bonnie Hurd Smith, President
Hurd Communications




Places to Visit:

Heard House, 1800
54 S Main Street
Ipswich, MA 01938


Whipple House, 1677
1 South Village Green Ipswich, MA 01938


Paine House at Greenwood Farm, 1694
Jeffrey’s Neck Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
978-921-1944 x8815



Roger Burke & Associates
174 High Street
Ipswich, MA 01938

Ph: 978.356.0608


Mat Cummings
Cummings Architects
87 Central Street
Ipswich, MA 01938
Ph: 978.356.5026


Rainer Koch
Koch Architects
38 Essex Rd
Ipswich, MA 01938


Robert E. May, Jr.
34 Lakemans Lane
Ipswich, MA 01938


Thomas Mayo
Thomas Mayo Architecture
2 Central St
Ipswich, MA 01938


Kenneth J. Savoie
K. J. Savoie Architecture
4 South Main Street
Ipswich, MA 01938


TS Beard Architecture
21 Market Street
Suite 250
Ipswich, MA 01938

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IpswichArts was designed and developed by Marianne Cellucci bullet contact: info@ipswicharts.com