16 County Street, the Abraham Knowlton house (1726)

16 County Street, the Abraham Knowlton house (1726)

This original 3-bay right (south) side of 16 County St. is believed to have been constructed circa 1725-26, and no later than about 1740. The other two bays were added to the left side of the house between 1750 and 1800.

Capt. Abraham Knowlton was a jointer and a member of the woodworkers fraternity in 18th century Ipswich. The work of these artisans was very sophisticated according to Sue Nelson, who wrote Capt. Abraham Knowlton, Joiner, and the Seminal Woodworkers of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Abraham Knowlton house in 1978
Abraham Knowlton house in 1978

The house was in poor condition and abandoned during a lengthy dispute about demolishing it to expand the (now closed) Caldwell Nursing Home. In 2003 it was restored and turned into condominiums by Ipswich architect Matthew Cummings.

16 County Street, the Abraham Knowlton house  Ipswich
Rear and north sides of the Abraham Knowlton house before it was restored.

Abraham Knowlton hand-carved a pulpit which is still considered to be masterpiece. The pulpit was about six feet tall and overhead was the sounding board. The pulpit and sounding board remained in the church until it was razed to build the Old North Church in 1846. The plan for the new church differed in style and the pulpit and sounding board were not included into the design, so they were stored in the belfry of the new church steeple, which is where they remained until the church burned in 1965. Fortunately, the items were not seriously damaged and are displayed in the current First church balcony.

The owner of the house in the 1820s, 30s, and 40s was Bethia Fitz, “singlewoman”, who received the house from the heirs of Abraham Knowlton, cabinetmaker, in 1822 (257:277) “in consideration of services rendered to our honored mother and grandmother, Sarah Knowlton”.

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