Entering: Ipswich, Massachusetts

A sign for the Choate Bridge in Ipswich, built in 1764

A sign for the Choate Bridge in Ipswich, built in 1764

Here on the North Shore of Massachusetts, we are spoiled with the amount of classic New England charm and beauty we are surrounded by in our towns and cities. All of these places are accessible to one another either by highway or by scenic back road drives, which I prefer taking on nice days. This past weekend, we had one day that felt exceptionally fall-like (my favorite season) and it pained me to think about the possibility of spending the day indoors. I HAD to get outside, and I had the notion to drive to the town of Ipswich and walk around. I’m not quite sure what led me to choose this specific town (perhaps it was because during my time in college I rarely visited it besides to hang out at Crane Beach) but whatever the reason, Nick and I packed ourselves into my car and headed down Route 1A for a little Sunday adventure.

A beautiful breeze was blowing as we drove with the windows down. We made our way towards the downtown and I found a parking spot across from the police station. The great thing about visiting other places on Sunday? No parking meter fees 🙂 We started to walk around, the sun beaming down on us and barely a cloud in the sky. It was nearing the evening hours and as I mentioned, it was a Sunday, so unfortunately a lot of shops were closing, but that was okay. I just wanted to walk around and admire the scenery! We approached the Choate Bridge, constructed in 1764.  There was a sign announcing this (see the photo at the top of this post), as well as an original carving in one of the stones.

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I have always loved the thought of walking over these old bridges and knowing how many other generations of New Englanders have done the exact same thing. If you’re curious about the history of this bridge (or of Ipswich in general), you can read all about it on this fascinating blog, Stories from Ipswich.

We continued to walk and look at the different shops that the town has to offer. There is a shop to suit every interest in Ipswich, including many antique stores with one-of-a-kind finds!

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I had to take a picture of the sign for this shop – my mom’s name is Carole and we don’t often see it spelled with the “e”!

As we made our way through the downtown, we spotted many restaurants and food places we would like to try if we hadn’t had a big lunch before coming to Ipswich. One of these includes SALT Kitchen and Rum Bar, a gastropub that I’ve heard great things about – and how could I pass up rum? It is my liquor of choice after all. We will certainly be back to see what it’s all about, but at the moment we were walking, all I could think about was ice cream in some form. As I had this in mind, we passed a sign outside of The Five Corners Cafe and Deli which advertised ice cream cookie sandwiches – my absolute favorite. I just about sprouted wings with how fast I went inside and ordered one, chocolate chip with vanilla ice cream. So delicious. I’m craving one even as I write.

Such a satisfying treat!

With treat in hand, I meandered along back the way of the car with Nick to see what else we could find. At the end of the street we parked on, we came across the Benjamin Grant house, circa 1735, on the corner. This house is a wonderful example of 18th century  architecture and has been very well-kept. I love houses in this exact style.

benjamin grant house

Across the street from the Benjamin Grant House was a grassy landing along the Ipswich River. We sat on a bench under a shady tree and watched ducks float along the river and enjoyed such a peaceful late summer afternoon.

pretty spot

Further along the street was Sawmill Point, which, according to the sign, “was the location of “gristmills, fulling mills, and sawmills powered by the Lower Falls of the Ipswich River.” I could just imagine the days when these mills were in operation, large wooden wheels turning, powered by the force of nature.

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Before we had parked earlier, we had driven past what looked like a home from the 1600s and I was now determined to find it again. We kept walking, and it turns out the home is the Whipple House, built in 1677 for the wealthy Captain John Whipple. According to the Ipswich Historical Commission’s website (www.historicipswich.org), the house was saved from being lost to the ages, and was restored and moved in 1927 to the location where it stands today. Tours are available through the Ipswich Museum, which was unfortunately closing shortly when we were there, but I will definitely be back to thoroughly see this unique and architecturally beautiful house!

The back of the Whipple House, built in 1677

The back of the Whipple House, built in 1677

Next to the Whipple House, we spotted a very unique miniature house or shed of some sort. I couldn’t stop looking at it – I felt like I was in a scene from the Hobbit! Maybe I haven’t researched hard enough, but I can’t seem to find any information about what this building is. If anyone knows any fun facts or details, please send them my way!

Such an intriguing little place! I wish I could find out more..

Such an intriguing little place! I wish I could find out more..

We mosied along after admiring these early American sites and passed by more scenic and historic spots:

The Hall-Haskell House, circa 1800. I'll be back to take a tour!

The Hall-Haskell House, 1819. I’ll be back to take a tour!

The Ipswich Museum, looking lovely under blue skies

The Ipswich Museum stands proudly under blue skies

dam

Industry meets nature at the Upper Falls

I would love to come back to Ipswich at a date and time when I can really visit these historic properties and businesses downtown, so I will certainly plan on it.  Also, if you’ve never been, there is so much more to Ipswich to discover than the small part that I’ve written about here: The Crane Estate offers Crane Beach, truly a hotspot this time of year, The Great House on Castle Hill where many hold fabulous events and weddings, and the Crane Wildlife Refuge. Russell Orchards, Appleton Farms and Marini Farm also offer New England fun for the whole family, as well as many other attractions I haven’t listed here. Be on the lookout for another Ipswich post to hopefully come soon!

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2 thoughts on “Entering: Ipswich, Massachusetts

  1. The “Hobbit” house you saw is the Alexander Knight House. Constructed using period tools, technology and materials, it was built by volunteers and gifted to the Ipswich Museum this year.

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