This page contains excerpts from The History of the Ipswich Public Schools, an excellent article written in 2008 by William E. Waitt, Jr, who served as teacher and principal in the Ipswich Public Schools for 36 years.Photos were added by town historian Gordon Harris. Download The History of the Ipswich Public Schools as PDF.
1633: Agawam (Ipswich) is settled by John Winthrop, Jr. The “Dame School” is established in the colonies and the towns’ foremost citizens who did not attend grammar schools are in attendance. Goodwife Collins dedicates more than 30 years to teaching in this first important step towards education.
1642: “The first third day of the 9th in 1642, it is granted that shall be a free school.”
1651: A grammar school is established and endowed, which was known as The Feoffees of the Grammar School. Mr. Robert Paine, according to another source, built the schoolhouse, completed in 1653, near the corner of County Road and Linden Street, facing the green, and it continued in use for a half century.
Read also, from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters:
In 1704, the need for a new schoolhouse and a new Town Hall was apparent (because of an increase in population) so a Town Hall with a schoolhouse under it was built on Town Hill. In 1784, a new school-house was built near the Town House, which occupied the small triangular plot in front of the present Methodist Church.This woodcut shows the second Ipswich Town House and Court, to the right of the church. The grammar school was at this location until 1794. In 1854 James Damon moved the old court building from the North Green to the corner of Market Street and Depot Square where it became the first “Damon Block.” Woodblock by S. E. Brown, 1838
In 1742 Linebrook School was established in the outer Linebrook area (known at the time as the first parish). Photo 19th Century, photographer unknown.
1794: A schoolhouse was built in the “school orchard” at the corner of Argilla Road and Linden Street,near the site of the original Payne School, across from the South Green, originally known as School House Green. In 1808 the town’s first High School opened at this location, and in 1828, the Town voted to build a second floor to the schoolhouse. The building was moved to a location on Argilla Road and Locust Street in 1835, where it was used as a stable for the Lathrop Brothers Coal and Oil Company. This first high school building was torn down in 1955. Photo from Bill Varrell’s book, Ipswich
1813: The Dennison School opens next door to the First Church vestry. It closed in 1925. Photo by Edward Darling. Photo from Ipswich Museum collection
1828: The Ipswich Female Seminary, a private women’s school was incorporated, and Miss Zilpah Polly Grant and Miss Mary Lyon (hired a year later) were hired. (In later years Miss Lyons founded Mt. Holyoke College.) In 1843 The Rev. and Mrs. John Cowles took over the Ipswich Female Seminary and it became famous as a popular school. The Ipswich Female Academy closed in 1876 as public schools became open to all students.
1841: The Plum Island School was built, and the Grape Island School was built in 1843. Photo by George Dexter
The 1832 Ipswich map shows rural schools at Argilla, Candlewood, and Waldingfield Roads. Candlewood School near today’s Candlewood golf course, and the Argillla School, which was constructed in 1808.The Argilla building was near 188 Argilla Rd. was still shown as an active school in the 1910 Ipswich map. (I wonder if that building may still be standing nearby).
The Linebrook School is shown at the intersection of Linebrook and Leslie Roads in the 1832 Ipswich map.
1849: The Cogswell School was built on Payne Street. Photo from Ipswich Museum collection
The 1872 Village map has the public schools marked simply SH (circled in red). The Town House has been moved to Depot Square by Mr. Damo. The Dennison School is still at Meeting House Green, and there are now three separate school houses near the South Green (School House Green). The Payne School at Lords Square has not yet been moved to its current location. The Ipswich Female Academy is still operating. Central Street has been created but the Manning and Winthrop Schools do not yet exist.
1874: The Manning High School opened on August 26, 1874 and 5 students were graduated. The three-story building, with the auditorium on the 3rd floor, was located on Central Street, next to the fire station (on the front lawn of the present Winthrop School.) In 1944 the Manning School was finally closed when the Superintendent’s office was moved to the new High School on Green Street. Photo shared on Facebook
1890: The Wainwright School was constructed at a cost of $7,700. Edie Cook informs us that the school house was originally beside the Payne school and was moved to its present location at the corner of Spring and Highland Streets. Photo from Ipswich Patriot Properties site.
1802 The North District decides to construct a schoolhouse with public subscription. Dr. Manning gave half the funds for its construction. The building was one story. This was the beginning of the Payne School in Lord Square.It was originally across the square next to the present Dunkin Donuts. In 1891, the Payne School got extensive repairs and was moved across the square to its present location. According to the Chronicle, the second floor was added at this time. In 1943 classes were suspended at the Payne School and teachers and students were transferred to other schools. The building now serves as the school superintendent’s office. The smaller building was moved to the road leading to Highland Cemetery, where it still stands.
1895: The “old” Winthrop School is constructed as a four-room school next to the Manning School. A wing was later added. Photo courtesy of Bill George
Winthrop School with the addition that was added on the south side.
In 1905, the Candlewood School was moved to Manning Street to ease the burden of overcrowding, at a cost of $500. Photo by Ipswich Patriot Properties
In 1907, one floor of the Colonial Building (on the North Green) was rented by the School Board to accommodate the 9th grade.Photo by Ipswich Patriot Properties
1908: The Burley School (4 rooms) is added to the school system. Burley replaced the classrooms housed at the Colonial Building. The new school housed two grades in each room grades 1-8. One of the features was the second floor was equipped with electric outlets so that slides could be shown to supplement instruction. In 1921, a six-room addition was added to the Burley School. The building is now residential. Photo by Edward Darling.
In 1910, the Warren Street firehouse was converted to a school to house two 7th grade classrooms. The building was sold in 1926, and has since that time been a residence. Photo by Ipswich Patriot Properties
In the 1910 Ipswich village map, the town is dotted with schools. Manning and Wintrhop on Central St., and the Burley School are the large facilities. Children are attending classes at the Cogswell School on Payne St., Payne School at Lords Square, the Candlewood School which has been moved to Manning St., the Warren firehouse has been converted to classrooms, the Wainwright School has moved to Spring St., and the Dennison School is still operating at the North Green.
1920’s and early 30’s: The second story of the Old Town Hall (on South Main Street) was used by the High School as an assembly room and a performance center during the late 1920s and early 1930s because the third floor of the Manning High School was not usable.Photo source unknown
1924: The Colonel Nathaniel Shatswell Memorial School on Green Street was named after a Civil War hero. The Town bought the old county Jail and Insane Asylum property on Green Street for $23,000.00 when it came on the market. The school’s total cost was $84,920.71 and it was to replace the soon to be closed Wainwright, Dennison, Cogswell, Spring Street and Warren Street schools. It was the first school to be built using concrete and steel in its construction. The school housed grades 1-8 in its eight classrooms. In 1978 the Shatswell School closed. Photo by Ipswich Patriot Properties
In 1936 The new High School on Green Street was occupied and classes started. After a very long time and after much debate by several committees a new high school was voted on, with federal funds (the Town voted $120,000 to be added to a federal government grant of $111,725.00) and construction began in November 1935 with final completion on February 6, 1937 with a final cost of $229,000.00. At the time it was considered “a superior building” and the “pride of The Town.” Although bronze plaques were erected just inside the vestibule, few citizens note that this building was erected in memory of the veterans of World War I.The old jail workshop was used for a woodworking shop, a print shop, cooking, sewing, home economics and a heating plant. 1963 was an exciting year because in this year double sessions ended and all high school activities were transferred to a new building on High Street while Grades 6, 7 and 8 continued to use the old high school building which becomes a Junior High. Photo from Ipswich postcards
In 1956 the new Winthrop School opened with an enrollment of 425, and had 16 classrooms plus support rooms. In 1984 a portable classroom was added to the Winthrop School for the G.A.T.E. program. In 1986, a 10-room addition and extensive renovations were started at the Winthrop School. With the construction of this building Ipswich reached a landmark in that this was the first elementary school built with automatic oil heat, unit ventilators, sinks and bubblers in classrooms, an auditorium/cafeteria, a playroom, movable furniture and an internal sound system. The total cost of construction was $635,000.00, less State aid. The school replaced the old 10 room wooden Winthrop School (that was located in the front of the school to the right of the middle door) and had served the town for 70 years.
1963: A new High School was opened on High Street and double sessions ceased after nearly 10 years in June. The old high school on Green St. became the junior high school. After much discussion, planning, failed voter ballots, overrides and plans, the Town Meeting decided to build a new middle school on the property in stages of less than $500,000 in order prevent defeat at the ballot. The 1963 building served the needs of the Town but was of the cheapest construction and was not suitable for an expanded high school curriculum so it was decided to build a new facility. A committee, beginning in 1992, was appointed to study the situation and they decide the site was excellent but the building should be torn down after a new one (the current Ipswich Middle/High School)was built in front of existing building. Photo cover of 1965 Ipswich Annual Report.
1965: The Linebrook School opens as a 10-room school. In 1967, a twelve-room addition is added to the Linebrook School and the name changed to The Paul F. Doyon Memorial School in honor of our first Viet-Nam War casualty, and kindergarden was started at Doyon School. 1994 After a failure at the polls, the addition to the Doyon is started as well as a new septic system for $538,000.00.
1969: The Memorial Building facilities were used for school, housing two grade 6 classes.The building was constructed in 1924 as a gift to the town by Richard Teller Crane, Jr who builds Crane Castle. Photo by George Dexter, early 20th Century.
The basement of Saint Stanislaus Church on Washington Street housed primary school students in the 1970′s because of a classroom shortage and a third elementary principal was hired. Photo from MACRIS site.
The old shop building of the old County Jail was used as a manual training center, a print shop, home economics center, a wood work shop and many other uses as well as a boiler room for its next door neighbor throughout the years. In 1944, the manual training program was moved from the basement of the Winthrop School to the shop building. In 1997, two modular classrooms were added to the Whipple School. This building was moved to the end of the Winthrop School (in 2000) when the new Middle/High School was opened. It still is in use today. Photo from Whipple Terrace site.
In 1996, voters approved a new middle/high school for High Street at a cost of $31.9 million. After construction delays, the new facility opened in September, 1999 with 512 students in the High School and 502 in the Middle School. A Performing Arts Center was an exciting part of the new facility.