Wainwright-Treadwell house, East St., Ipswich MA

62 East Street, the Treadwell-Wainwright House (1691 / 1726)

The structural form of this house evolved from the late 17th Century until 1800. Re-used summer beams in the basement are from a First Period structure, and the rear wing has a massive fireplace that may date to the ownership of a house on this lot in 1691 by Nathaniel Treadwell. The front east side framing dates to 1711-1726, the rear wing was then built or modified, and the west side is said to have been added in about 1800, giving the house its present Georgian / Federal appearance.

Tall ceilings, raised-field paneling and feather-edge sheathing found throughout the house are key high-style period features. An exceptional hand-turned balustrade exists in the rear hall, similar to the balustrade in the Capt. Richard Rogers House on North Main St., built in 1728.

Fireplace at 62 East St.
The massive fireplace in the rear wing of the house at 62 East St.
Fireplace in the Swett-Isley house
The fireplace in the 1670 Swett-Ilsley house in Newbury is almost identical, indicating that masonry in the rear wing of 62 East Street may be from the 17th Century earlier house at this location. It bears resemblance to the fireplaces in the 1680 Daniel Lummus house and the 1669 Joseph Willcomb house on High St. in Ipswich.
Layout of 62 East St.
East end lot grants in Ipswich
Robert Coles, an early settler is believed to have been granted the lot where the house at 62 East Street now stands, adjoining the lot of John Winthrop Jr., the leader of the group of 12 men who created the settlement at Agawam that became the town of Ipswich. The two lots have some common history, were sold in sections and were joined together again during the first century of the settlement.

The John Winthrop Jr. lot

The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay

The ancient Records of the Town locate the lot of John Winthrop Jr. on East Street adjoining Mr. Boreman. Winthrop, son of the governor, led the group of the settlers of Ipswich in 1633, and was granted a lot of six acres. A list of John Winthrop’s home inventory indicates that it was a small four room structure. Winthrop’s wife Martha died with an infant in the summer of 1634. He returned to England briefly and remarried, and two years later he accepted a commission to begin a plantation in Saybrook Connecticut, where he moved in 1639.

Mr. Wade was the owner after Winthrop, and sold the same lot with a house to Richard Wells of Salisbury. It was sold to John Johnson, then to William Buckley, Nov. 24, 1671, who carved out four lots. In his deed to Elizabeth Bridgham of Boston, her property is bounded south by the street and “three little parcels on which houses are already built.

Francis Wainwright ownership

The large main lot was sold by Jonathan Bridgham of Boston to Francis Wainwright, Feb. 27, 1671 (Ips. Deeds 3: 243) who expanded his property holdings. A 36′ stone wall at 62 East St. may be part of the large cellar from the Francis Wainwright house, which Thomas Franklin Waters wrote was still exposed at the beginning of the 20th Century. Francis Wainwright deeded to his son, John, “as he promised on his marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. Wm. Norton, March 10, 1674-5 “the house said John occupies.”

On the southwest corner, abutting on Nathaniel Piper, John Barry sold a lot with a house and land to John Wainwright Sr., Aug. 6, 1678 (Ips. Deeds 4: 253), who was living here when he bought the adjoining Piper lot in 1690. Col. Wainwright was one of the most important men of his day, Justice of the Sessions Court, Representative to the General Court in 1696 and 1698, and Justice of the Sessions Court until the year before his death at age 60 in 1708. The estate at his death was valued at £20,000.

The Robert Coles lot

The lot adjoining Winthrop’s on the east was granted to Robert Coles, but he sold to Joseph Medcalf. Medcalf sold the eastern part of his lot to Isaac Cummings, the western to Deacon William Goodhue, before 1639 (Town Records). John Leighton was the owner in 1654.

John Leighton to Nathaniel Treadwell, 1691

John Leighton sold to Nathaniel Treadwell April 16, 1691, “parcels of land and the messauges thereon, which were mine. First parcel is the homestead of my house, 3 1/2 acres.” (Salem Deeds Book 9: Page 268).

The foundation, fireplace and chimney in the rear wing of the existing house at 62 East St. may be from the ownership of Nathaniel Treadwell or John Leighton, predating the rest of the house, although roof framing indicates that the present rear wing was built after the front right section. The front left is of later construction.

Nathaniel Treadwell to Col. John Wainwright Jr. 1710

Nathaniel Treadwell and “Rebecca his wife,” true and lawful owners” sold the same three and a half acres “with a certain dwelling” bounded east by Samuel Taylor to John Wainwright, son of John and grandson of the Colonel, with “a certain dwelling house and Homestead or house lot, Oct. 1, 1710 “for £120.00 of current money New England.” “bounded northwardly on the homestead of Giles Cowes and John Wainwright, late of Ipswich, northwesterly and southwestardly by land of Benjamin Newman, and the homestead of Samuel Treadwell southwestwardly .” (Salem Deeds: Book 23: Page 33)

The estate of Nathaniel Treadwell’s grandfather Samuel Taylor, deceased, then owned the adjoining estate. Nath. Treadwell, his executor and Samuel Treadwell, his legatee, sold the house and an acre lot for £52 to John Wainwright Jr., Oct. 21, 1710 (Salem Deeds Book 22: Page 216).

Col. John Wainwright Jr.

John Wainwright Jr., son of John Wainwright and Elizabeth Norton, was born June 14, 1691, married Christian Newton and graduated from Harvard in 1709. He was a Member of the House of Representatives for the Town of Ipswich, Clerk of the House, Justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for the County of Essex, and Colonel of a Regiment of Foot in the County.

After purchasing the lot and house from Treadwell, Wainwright began construction of a large new mansion house on the lot, which is believed to be the right and rear portions of this house. It appears that he removed the rear structure, but re-used some of the framing members as he built a new house in front with a new wing in the rear, saving the massive existing fireplace where it stood.

Wainwright overextended and was beset by financial problem. He conveyed for £920.00 to Samuel Appleton of Boston, “sundry messuages or house lots, commonly known by the names of Leighton’s lot, Taylor’s lot, Newman’s homestead and the late messuage or house lott of my honored grandfather, Francis Wainwright,” totaling about fifteen acres, upland, tillage, pasture and meadow, Oct. 25, 1726 (47: 144). The deed informs us that on the former “Leighton’s lot” there was a “new house not finished.” This confirms that the home of Nathaniel Treadwell which he sold to John Wainwright Jr., and the house begun by Wainwright were on the same lot.

Col. John Wainwright Jr. died September 1, 1739, “after a lingering Indisposition” in the 48th Year of his Age, leaving his wife Christian Wainwright a widow with children.

62 East Street, the Treadwell-Wainwright House (1691 / 1726)
The Treadwell – Wainwright house in the 20th Century. The oldest section of this house is on the right, and the rear wing was built sometime afterward. It is believed that the left side was added around 1800, creating its present Georgian/Federal appearance.

Subsequent history

Samuel Appleton owned considerable real estate in Ipswich, but at the time of his death was insolvent. The spacious East Street property was sold to Francis Cogswell, June 2, 1733 (65: 146). Only a single mansion house (this house) is mentioned in this deed, but the land measured twelve acres. The estate, bounded by Samuel Wainwright west and Francis Cogswell east, was sold to Francis Sayer (Sawyer) May 3, 1746 (90: 46). Samuel Sawyer, son of Francis, inherited all his real estate and enlarged his inheritance by various purchases, until his holding on this side of East St. included all the original Wainwright land, except the Samuel Wainwright lot. The Wainwright – Treadwell House at 62 East St. appears to be the only building on the tract.

1832 map of East St. in Ipswich
1832 “Philander” map of Ipswich showing only the home of James B. Sawyer across from the Wharf. Deed history indicates that this is the unfinished house sold by Col. John Wainwright to Samuel Appleton in 1726.

Early ownership of this lot

Thomas Treadwell

Thomas Treadwell arrived in New England in 1635 with his wife and infant son Thomas. Excerpts from his will show that in 1671 he bequeathed to the junior Thomas his property on “Treadwell’s Island” between Labor in Vain Creek and Fox Creek. To his son Nathaniel he gave half of his upland house, barn and meadows, and the other half to his wife as long as she lives. He also gave his wife “the benefit of the keeping of four Cows and six sheep upon the pasture also the Wintering five head of Cattle and six sheep, “plus the firewood from the pasture, “also I give to my wife all my household goods to be at her own disposing…..And if Nathaniel fail of any thing he is to do for my Wife my will is that he shall forfeit ten pound every year he fails.” (Proved in Ipswich Court, September 26, 1671. Docket 28, 115). The estate shows 30 acres upland and an equal amount on “Thomas Island” which is probably today’s Treadwell Island, but the location of Thomas Treadwell’s early house is unknown.

Francis Wainwright

Francis Wainwright arrived in Charleston from Chelmsford, Essex, England in 1630 and moved to Ipswich around 1637. He was among the first to volunteer in the Pequot War against the Indians that same year and distinguished himself for personal bravery. Over 700 Pequot people were slain or taken prisoner, and only 16 English died. Wainwright was young and vigorous, firing his musket until his powder and shot were spent, then beating off the enemy with the stock of his gun. For his services in this war Francis Wainwright received a grant from Ipswich. Francis Wainwright became a prominent merchant, and was the beneficiary of his wife’s inherited estate. He expanded his estate, eventually owning a large area of land on East Street near the town wharf.

In 1671 property was purchased by Col. John Wainwright’s father Francis Wainwright on the north side of East Street, opposite the town landing near the location of this house. He deeded the property to his son John in 1675 on his marriage with Elizabeth Norton. He eventually owned almost all the land in front of the docks.

During the 1938 hurricane, a large elm crashed into the roof of 62 East St.
During the 1938 hurricane, a large elm crashed into the roof of 62 East St.

A Ghost Story

There was an old legend about Col. John Wainwright’s sister. Their mother Phillipa (first wife of Francis Wainwright) died in 1669. Mary was the oldest daughter so she inherited her mother’s fine clothing and jewels. She was unhealthy and died five years later. On her deathbed she bitterly promised a curse on her pretty young sister Martha if she wore the fine clothes after her death. Mary resisted for years, but eventually her resolve was weakened by a crush on a charming young man from England. She dressed in Mary’s finest and went outside to see her reflection in the well. Seeing Mary’s face in the well instead, she went into shock and fainted, and was carried to her bedroom where she was discovered dead the next day alongside her faithful servant Chloe. An old well exists on this property. The story, however seems to not be historically correct. Mary lived to 52, and married Jeremiah Shephard. Martha Wainwright married Joseph Proctor and had ten children, including daughters also named Mary and Martha.

62 East St. Preservation Agreement

This house is protected by a preservation agreement between the owners and the town of Ipswich. Read the East-62-wainwright-preservation-agreement. Protected elements include:

  • Front facade
  • Frame, primary and secondary members
  • Central chimney
  • Selected wooden architectural elements including molding, paneling, mantelpiece, doors

Photos from inside the house

Tusk tenons in Ipswich house
Massive old beams were re-used in the basement at 62 East St. The beam on the left is mortised for tusked tenons, which are found in the Fairbanks house in Dedham, the oldest surviving timber-frame house in North America, built ca 1641.
Tusked tenon diagram
Illustration of a tusked tenon in the 1641 Fairbanks House in Dedham, from “The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay” by Abbott Lowell Cummings
Stairway at 62 East St.
Balusters and newels in the stairwell at 62 East St. are similar to the 1728 Richard Rogers House on N. Main St. in Ipswich.
Brick sizes and clay mortar in Ipswich MA First Period chimney
Exposed back wall of the massive fireplace chimney at 62 East St. Note the difference is sizes of the bricks. In 1679 the Massachusetts Court ordered that brick sizes be standardized at “9 inches long, 2 1/4″ thick.” Today’s bricks are generally 3″ thick. We see a mix of both in this chimney wall. Clay mortar continued to be used until the mid-19th century.
Roof framing in the rear wing of the house at 62 East St.
Roof framing in the rear wing of the house at 62 East St.
Georgian paneling at 62 East St. in Ipswich
Early Federal doors and paneling, and a Rumford fireplace in an upstairs bedroom at 62 East St.


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