Ipswich History 1975 – 2000

1975 – 2000: Ipswich continues into the Modern Age while protecting its historic and natural resources.

1975 — 77 acres of Marini Farms are purchased by the Town to save agricultural land and to protect the Dow Watershed.

1976 — Joseph Mitchell is appointed Town Manager, but resigns after several months in office.  The Town is awarded a $100,000 HUD Community Development Block Grant for the beautification project on North Main Street and for the rehabilitation of homes in the central downtown area.  George Howe is appointed Town Manager,

1977 — A second CDB Grant is approved by HUD to continue the work of rehabilitation for low-income families.  80 low-income apartments for the elderly and 14 for families are constructed at Agawam Village off County Road by the Ipswich Housing Authority.  A comprehensive revision of the Zoning by-law is adopted by Town Meeting vote, to plan for more orderly growth and to comply with the State Zoning Enabling Act. The South Parish House, operated as a Teen Drop-in Center by the Youth Commission, is tragically destroyed by fire. Continuing water shortages plague the Town. The new Sewer Treatment Plant becomes operational and functions very effectively, a source of pride to the Town.

1978 — Another year of water shortages forces methods of conservation on the citizens.  Essex Road Well is begun (and is completed in 1979). Town dump is closed, and the site becomes a solid waste transfer station.

1979 —- A tax cap set by the voting of Proposition 2 1/2 on the State level causes stringent economies in the Town budget. Town Meeting votes that the Electric Light Department should not invest any further through Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company in the Seabrook nuclear plant. The Conservation Commission publishes an Open Space/Recreation Plan. A revaluation is performed to assess all property at 100% valuation. The new assessed value is $236,464,240.

1980 – George Howe is reappointed, the first second-term Town Manager. Harold Bowen makes a bequest of his 1720 home to the Town of Ipswich.   Massachusetts Historical Commission announces that four districts in the historic areas of town are named to the National Register of Historic Places. The proposal for a town-controlled Industrial Park on Mitchell Road is defeated. Two devastating fires bring the terrible loss of life to three members of the Norris family and the destruction of Hill’s Store in Market Street. A Community Development Block Grant of $300,000 is awarded for the improvement of the downtown shopping area. Hill’s Store is rebuilt.

1981 — Downtown shopping area is greatly improved with the restoration of the Caldwell Block and the building of the Market Place which replaces the burned-out Damon Building.

1983 — Plan for Middle School — grades 6, 7, and 8 — is inaugurated in the Whipple Junior High School, Green Street.

1984    Town Meeting votes to build a new water treatment plant at a cost of $5,360.000.  Finance Committee announces that the Town is in excellent financial shape. The 1984-85 budget is $9.405,003. The 1983 valuation is $300,706,450. The FY 1984 tax rate is $19.25. The Town Census shows our population to be 11,757.  The Town prepares for summer festivities to celebrate the 350th Anniversary of our incorporation as Ipswich. One of the most permanent memorials will be the new monument erected by the veterans’ organizations at the honor roll site on South Main Street in memory of all Ipswich men and women who have served this nation in time of war.

1985 — Sharpshooters were hired by The Trustees of Reservations to cull Crane Reservation deer herd. — George Pappas and the Ipswich Shellfish Co. celebrated 50 years in business. Strand Theater is closed and torn down.             First town planner hired.

1986 — Town meeting passes $1.5 million bond to build new addition to Winthrop School.  Green Street sewer project gets underway. Alice Mosely became Ipswich’s first woman police officer. 1987 — Meadowview Farm Development approved. New school policy requires equal opportunity for both sexes in hiring practices and educational programs. First Presbyterian Church of Hamilton bought former Christmas Angel on County Rd.for a church.  Harvest Market on Central St.  closes.  Town emergency declared as Ipswich River swelled beyond its banks.  Cable Hospital is converted into 70 apartments for the elderly and disabled citizens.  Boardwalk was built from parking lot to Crane Beach. —        The town created a demolition delay bylaw.

1988   Winthrop new school addition is opened. Smoking was banned in Town Hall, Police and Fire Stations.  Anne Killeen and Anne Keraghan became our first women firefighters.  Appleton Farms celebrated 350 years of continuous operation by the Appleton Family.  Quint’s Corner, which opened in 1936, stopped serving lunch and ice cream at the lunch counter.  New water treatment plant.

1989 — Scientists and Nature experts predict that within a century the sea level near Ipswich would rise 3 to 11 feet and destroy 37-130 acres of Crane Beach.  Developer John Cormier purchased the historic 1640 Hart House with plans to turn it into a restaurant. Quint’s closed.  Colburn Home for elderly is closed and will be sold.  Street number bylaw established.

1990 — The Population of Ipswich is 12,791. The Merchants Association was formed.  Kommittee for Kids was started.        Mary Conley Preservation Award for Historic Home Preservation was established.  Ipswich County Club was forced into bankruptcy.

1991 — Ipswich County Club was taken over by the Malden Bank for Savings. Mine Crane donated Hog Island to The Trustees of Reservations along with a $3 million trust. The Emergency Operating Center (EOC) was opened when Hurricane Bob paid a messy visit.  GTE-Sylvania puts its Ipswich plant up for sale.  Position of Finance Director established. New sign bylaw was approved.  Choate Bridge Dedication Ceremony. Composting facility opened.      Municipal government reorganization.

1992 — Harbormaster gets new boat.  School Committee entered school choice program. Town-wide curbside recycling began. Town building inspector enforced modern building code in historic homes. Town historians announced they would start preservation of historical ancestry documents. Town of Ipswich became home to two Chambers of Commerce when the Ipswich Business Association incorporated itself under the name of the Ipswich Community Chamber of Commerce.  First Saturday town meeting held.

1993 — St. Lawrence Literary Society decided to allow women to join their club.  Strong fire chief law turned down by State Supreme Court.  Woolworth’s closes. Sally Dodge’s Farm, Greenwood Farm, was turned over to the Trustees of Reservations.

1994 —Ipswich Center, a 243-year-old house in Lords Square is demolished. Communications tower at Cable Gardens was rejected by selectmen. Bond was signed by selectman for addition to Doyon School. Thousands of seeds, to feed 60 families, were planted at Cuvilly Farm on Turkey Shore Rd. Ipswich Public Library marked its 125th anniversary.        911 Emergency Response System activated.  40 foot sperm whale washed up on Crane Beach. Ipswich Co-Operative Bank purchases Depot Square Liquors building for a new bank.

1995 — Hills family store closed after 60 years.  Knowlton House 16-18 County Road was prevented from being torn down by The Historical Commission.  Cape Ann Market, in town since 1976, was bought by the Star Market. Old Strand Furniture building in Depot Square was knocked down to make way for the Co-Operative Bank. Town votes to join Essex County Mosquito Control Project. EBSCO Publishing buys Sylvania property on Union St. Ipswich Partnership hires a downtown manager. Carleton Funeral Home sold to John Morris. Three week celebration to observe the 50th anniversary of the end of WW II.  Lannan Chevrolet was sold to O’Keefe Chevrolet Oldsmobile Geo Inc. Ipswich Partnership awarded $400,000 grant to revitalize downtown. The movie “The Crucible” is filmed on Choate Island.       Long needed improvements were done to both Green Street bridge & Labor-in-Vane bridge.  Town took easements at Eagle Hill Landing by eminent domain.  Construction of the fish ladder at the Sylvania Dam was started.

1996 — Town votes to build new $31 million middle/high school complex. Town approves addition to 127-year-old library. Woolworth building demolished. Ben Franklin moves into Hills store. Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced plans to merge St. Stanislaus (French) and Sacred Heart Church (Polish) and St. Joseph’s Church.  La Salette is for sale.

1997 — Ipswich Partnership helps to upgrade downtown with grants to enhance streets and facades.  The new Catholic parish is named “Our Lady of Hope.”  St. Stanislaus is closed.  A new steeple with a cell tower within was put on the United Methodist Church. YMCA gets new home at VFW Post 1093 property on County Rd. Great Estates by-law is established. 311 acre La Salette National Shrine to become conference center, luxury resort and golf course called Turner Mill.

1998 — School Committee declares the Whipple School surplus.  Plans are under way for a new golf course at Turner Hill.  Mass. Highway Dept. will take over construction of River Walk based on $417,000 federal and state aid grant to the town. After 360 years, ownership of Appleton Farm will pass from the Appletons to the Trustees of Reservation.           Ipswich Women’s Club celebrates its 100th anniversary. Train service was restored to Newburyport.

1999 — Ground breaking for new $ 3 million YMCA on VFW land. — The MBTA layover station for trains moves to Newburyport.  It was suggested that town hall and recreation dept. move to the Whipple Middle School when it becomes vacant. The 1699 Day house on Pine Swamp Road was dismantled and reassembled in Topsfield.  Don Bosco is sold to New England Biolabs.  Sacred Heart Church closes.

200o — The population of Ipswich is 13,602.  A few hundred people gathered on New Year’s Eve morning to dedicate the new Ipswich Family YMCA. Crane Beach parking stickers went from $3 to $4 and horse van stickers to $20.   High tides and strong easterly winds washed away about 30 feet of the board-walk at Crane Beach.  School officials discovered that two Arthur Wesley Dow paintings which they were given have been appraised at between $750,000 and $1,000,000.  A German company, Reifenhauser moved into the former Chronicle building at 2 Washington St.        The town received a check from the State for more than a $1,000,000 for the Ipswich Public Library project. The Planning Board approved Omnipoint’s bid for a cell tower at Cable Gardens. A $10,000,000 bond fund for open space was approved at town meeting. Ben Franklin store on Market Street closed.  The Essex County Greenbelt and the Friends of Nichols Field completed the purchase of the 15-acre meadow called Nichols Field.  New England alive closed by the State. A 120-foot cell tower was approved on Turnpike Rd.  A 19-unit motel at the corner of High St. and Mitchell Rd. was approved. A new “Birth to 3” center opened at the site of the former Ben Franklin.  Beer and wine license for the Richdale Store on Market St. The Ipswich League of Women Voters voted to disband. The old Knowlton house, which is condemned, was listed on the state’s most endangered historic resources. Family Dollar Store opened at what was part of the Ben Franklin Store.  Redesign of Central St/Lord Square was completed.  Open Space Program Manager was hired. Veteran football coach Jack Welch retired after 37 years at Ipswich High School. The Brown’s cottage at Castle Hill was restored and opened as a B&B. New Middle School / High School opened.

Forward and Introduction

1630 – 1692  The Town is founded and flourishes as one of the leading towns of the Colony

1700 – 1800 The Town gives its wealth and manpower to fighting the long French and Indian Wars, then staunchly supports the War for Independence and the founding of the Nation.

1800 – 1850  The Town is plunged into mourning when George Washington dies in December. Mourning bands are worn, pictures are draped. and the town observes a long period of “solemn observances”. The Town, having lost Hamilton in 1793 and Essex in 1819, is beset by economic troubles.

1850 – 1900  Ipswich  endures the ordeal of sending 350 men to the Civil War, but comes into more prosperous times with the commencement and expansion of the Ipswich Hosiery Mills.

1900 –  1950: The Town confronts the problems of War, Depression,  and Governmental Reform

1950 –  1975: Growth, Social and Environmental Change.

1975 – 2000: Ipswich continues into the Modern Age while protecting its historic and natural resources.




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