Ipswich: A Town Older than the Country Itself

Aidan Lewis, Journalist

Ipswich, Massachusetts was established in 1634, 142 years before the birth of the United States. Any town established that early is bound to have an encyclopedias worth of  history, and Ipswich is no different. From its beginnings as a port town, to its transitions to farming, then to milling, and finally where it is today, Ipswich has a rich, deep history.  The town today has many remnants from its past from large castles with rolling hills to houses that were built by the earliest settlers. Ipswich wears its history proudly on its sleeve. 

The first of these historical landmarks is the Whipple house, a 17th century home turned into a museum by the town. There visitors can see what it was like living in the new world. From churning butter to sewing, this landmark represents the very beginning of the town, and even to some extent the nation itself. The house, with its short ceilings and creaky wooden floors, looks and feels as though it has come straight out of a period piece. Actors inhabit the property during peak seasons and school trips, allowing the house to come alive and create a great educational experience for guests. When I asked a student about their experience visiting the house when they were younger, they described how “It always brought the curriculum into perspective. It showed us more than a book ever could”. The Whipple house is run by the museum of Ipswich, which has its main building right across the street.

Mark Gardner

The largest landmark of the town would be the Crane Estate. Split into two equally beautiful parts, Castle hill and the beach, Cranes is now the home of both warm sun filled days on the beach and concerts that are a staple to summertime in the North Shore. The estate hasn’t always been a tourist destination, though. The land came to prominence in 1910 when Richard T. Crane Jr., a wealthy Chicago industrialist known for his prominence in the plumbing scene, purchased it. On the property, he constructed a large mansion with deep architectural ties to those found in Europe as his family’s summer home. The original Italian Renaissance Revival house was replaced by the “Cranes Castle” that sits there today in 1928. Designed by David Adler, this house screams luxury and elegance. The hills, covered with marble statues, offer a yard too perfect for even the best of dreams. Past the hills lies the largest beach in Ipswich, Crane’s Beach.

It’s hard to imagine a place more complete than Crane’s Beach. The beating sun warms you as your eyes feast upon the views of the ocean and your nose picks up the faint but gratifying smell of the salt water. The beach prides itself in both its ability to attract tourists and while balancing the nature that makes the north shore so special. Cranes is just about as perfect as a beach can get, as long as you can get used to the cold water. When asking a student about the beach’s importance to the town, they said, “Not only is it a great place for locals for a summer day, but it also brings in a lot of tourism, which like it or not is a large part of Ipswich’s economy”. This sentiment echoes that of the official website. Truely a beach for all.

Ipswich may just be a small town, but there so much more to it than that. From Cranes, to the rich history that surrounds the town’s inhabitants, there isn’t a spot in Ipswich that doesn’t have a story. Many from Ipswich have generations going back intertwined with the town. Everything that makes Ipswich special makes it an easy place to visit, but a hard place to leave.