The Ipswich Heritage trust

Something to Preserve

Excerpts  from the introductory pages of Something To Preserve, published by the Ipswich Historical Society, 1975, about the preservation agreements established between owners of historic homes in Ipswich and the Society.

Appleton House, North Main in Ipswich MA

The Ipswich Heritage Trust saved the Appleton House on the corner of North Main and Central Streets

Later in that same year, 1962, a major oil company purchased another important, centrally located house, where it planned to substitute a service station. This dwelling, at the foot of Meeting House Green, had been built circa 1707 by the same Colonel John Appleton who, in 1687, was jailed by order of the Royal Governor for his part in the “Andros Rebellion.” To save this house, and later others, by more organized methods than last-minute individual measures, the Ipswich Heritage Trust was organized under the aegis of the Ipswich Historical Society, which is its designated beneficiary. After long negotiation, the oil company relinquished title for a payment by the Trust of the full purchase price plus attorney’s fees and other costs. With the help of outside donations, the project was financed. Within two years, and at a price far less than cost, the house was sold for use as a professional center, with deed restrictions assuring the trustees that no significant changes would be made to the structure’s frame and outer appearance.

Meanwhile, the Trust took an option, and exercised it, on two more buildings on Meeting House Green, which were in deplorable condition and threatened with disastrous conversions or even demolition. One was built in the mid-eighteenth century by Dr. John Manning, Revolutionary surgeon and early crusader for smallpox inoculation; the other, on the same property, built before 1769, had been the town’s first post office and is perhaps the earliest in the country still standing. Both were then later sold as a unit with deed restrictions covering interior detail as well as framing and out-side appearance. The new owners have restored the first to a handsome single-family dwelling and the other is now a picturesque clock shop.

A third purchase and resale by the Trust required the new owner to remove a long, ugly ell attached to the old dwelling in the early 1800’s. The end result is that a house which was literally rotting away and uninhabitable but which contained handsome paneling and an elaborate small staircase carved by the family of Thomas Dennis, one of the most famous of early American joiners, is now a source of pride to the owners and to the town. In each case, a corollary of the Trust’s preservation efforts has been a substantial addition to the town’s tax base.
The primary purpose of the Trust was the purchase of buildings of historic and architectural distinction for resale under Preservation Agreements designed to maintain those features of each structure which have distinctive value. However, clearly there are many owners of old houses who wish to have them preserved but have no interest whatever in selling them. The Trust therefore included in its charter a clause enabling it to purchase not the property but only the right to attach a Preservation Agreement to the deed. That right is called a less-than-fee purchase and it later became important in the context of the Ipswich Project.

Read more online chapters from Something to Preserve:

The Background
Colonial Ipswich
Early Trade
Post-Colonial History
Economic Quietude
Ipswich Historical Society
The Ipswich Heritage trust
Historic District
Historical Commission
The Project
Preservation Agreement

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