A rural setting with sea, history and diversity. From nature to culture and everything in between, this wonderful town does not leave anyone wanting.
by Karen Sackowitz
Ipswich, a gorgeous seaside community, is about to celebrate its 375th birthday. Ipswich has something for everyone.
The No. 1 tourist attraction in Ipswich is Crane Beach, a gorgeous four-mile stretch of pristine coastline. A rural setting with exceptional river, marsh, and ocean views, Ipswich also beckons outdoor lovers with hiking, biking, birding, and nature study spots galore, including the Bay Circuit Trail, Hamlin Reservation, Sandy Point State Reservation, Greenwood Farm, and Willowdale State Forest.
Visitors meandering down Argilla Road on their way to the beach are sure to stop at Russell Orchards for seasonal picking, tasty treats, and fun family festivals. For a more direct connection with the land, folks can participate in the Appleton Farms Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Shareholders take part in farming the area, and in turn receive a rich bounty of fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
Just as natural beauty rolls and flows through Ipswich, so does the town’s rich history. Ipswich Historical Society Curator Pat Tyler, whose grandparents built the Tyler Building on Central Street, loves to talk about the monumental role water power played in town during the 1800s.
Ipswich is also home to the nation’s largest number of still standing and occupied 17th-century homes; 58 houses in town were built during America’s “first period” of architecture prior to 1725. Fascinating stories about these homes, as well as tales of the many historic events that have occurred here in town, are included in a self-guided audio walking tour offered by the Ipswich Visitors Center.
Historic homes that are open to the public include the Whipple House Museum, built by military officer and entrepreneur Capt. John Whipple in 1677, and the Heard House Museum, a neoclassical-style mansion built in 1800 which now houses the Ipswich Historical Society, as well as the largest single collection of artwork by Arthur Wesley Dow, a renowned artist and art educator and an Ipswich native.
For those with a taste for more modern culture, Ipswich offers an array of Zagat-rated restaurants, as well as terrific downtown shopping and a bustling arts calendar. Whether it’s a Friday night artist reception, a performance by Chorus North Shore, or a summer evening concert on the lawn at Castle Hill, the creativity found in abundance here is continually celebrated.
As Ipswich begins preparations for its 375th celebration next year, stay tuned. The outdoor festivals, downtown events, and promotions throughout the community will be sure to showcase the town’s heritage, diversity, and local pride, for the benefit of those who visit or live here, for a day or a lifetime.
Date of Settlement: 1633
Date of Incorporation: 1634
Area Code: 978
Zip Code: 01938
Total Area: 42.1 square miles
Board of Selectmen: Elizabeth A. Kilcoyne, James W. Foley, Patrick J. McNally, Ingrid F. Miles, Edward B. Rauscher
Median Home Price: $492,500
Median Household Income: $84.069
Schools: Winthrop Elementary School, Paul F. Doyon Memorial School, Ipswich Middle School, Ipswich High School
Private Schools: Cornerstones (serving emotionally disturbed young people) and Cuvilly Arts and Earth Center, run by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
Notable Residents Â– past and present:
Â• Anne Bradstreet: the first notable American poet
Â• John Updike: Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Â• Arthur Wesley Dow: renowned painter who revolutionized art teaching methods in America
Â• Chevy Chase: “Saturday Night Live” alum and comedic actor
Â• Melissa Ferrick: singer / songwriter
Did you Know That:
Â• The first hosiery made by machinery in America was knitted in Ipswich?
Â• The four-faced clock on the First Church was made by Paul Revere?
Â• The High Street Cemetery contains the oldest gravestone in Essex County, dated 1647?
Â• Cameron Diaz recently filmed scenes in town for her 2009 film “The Box”?
Fun Things to Do/See:
Â• Rent a canoe from Foote Brothers Rentals and paddle down the Ipswich River
Â• Pick up some fried clams at the Clam Box; for dessert, ice cream from White Farms
Â• Take a stroll down the new Riverwalk, which connects both sides of the river to the downtown shopping area
Â• Learn about the town’s rich history by taking an audio walking tour
Â• Spend a perfect summer day at Crane Beach
1. The Wharf, Early 1800s: Once frequented by tall ships, the wharf was a hub of activity and commerce in the late 1800s.
2. South Parish Church Built in 1846: The lovely South Parish Church was the centerpiece of the South Green until it burned in 1977; only the foundation and bell remain on the site.
3. Ipswich River Footbridge: This Ipswich River footbridge, used by mill workers, was destroyed by floods and storms. Today, the new bridge provides access to shops.
4. Lower Falls: At one time, there were mills on both sides of the County Street Bridge Â– sawmills, blacksmith shop, carriage shop. Most were destroyed by fires in the 1880s and never rebuilt.
2009 to Mark 375th Anniversary: Help Ipswich Celebrate!
by Alicia Blain
“In Europe, 375 years would be nothing, but here it marks something amazing,” says Bonnie Hurd Smith, events consultant for the 375th anniversary celebration committee in Ipswich. Smith is working with the Ipswich Historical Society, numerous local businesses, and town officials to plan the event, which promises to be a months-long extravaganza taking place in 2009.
Along with a festival style weekend planned for Aug. 1-2, the committee plans on using several Sundays in July to celebrate various cultures to showcase the diversity of Ipswich. “There is such a vast amount of history that people have forgotten,” says Smith. “It isn’t just about the settlers years ago, but everything that has happened since as well.”
The family-friendly celebration will be geared toward not just one generation, but all, and to the entire town as well as visitors to Ipswich. So far, the town has held a contest urging residents of all ages to submit their artwork to be considered as the official event logo.
Smith says that although not all the details have been put into place, there has been talk of historically correct period actors and military encampments, riverside bonfires (like the popular “WaterFire Providence”), and an overall huge celebration of the arts to commemorate the town’s vast history. Local businesses, organizations, and even the schools will promote the 375th anniversary to generate excitement.
So mark the calendars with big red letters and don’t forget the 375th anniversary, sure to provide an abundance of both fun and history for all of the North Shore. To stay in tune with the progress and upcoming details, visit www.ipswichma375.org.