30 East St., Ipswich, the Francis Jordan house

30 East St., Ipswich MA, the “Francis Jordan house”, c. 1670

30 East St, Ipswich, the Francis Jordan house
30 East St, Ipswich, the Francis Jordan house

The oldest section of the house at 30 East St. in Ipswich was probably built in the 1660-80 time period, but the actual date and identity of its first inhabitant is uncertain. Massive chamfered timber frames from the First Period (1620-1720) of construction in the English colonies are exposed in both downstairs rooms of the house. The lower and upper east side rooms feature “lambs tongue” chamfer stops. Dendrochronology is needed to determine the actual age of the timbers. A construction date as early as 1665 for the left side of the house, which may be older, is possible, but the shape, size and position of the chimney girts are very similar to those in the oldest (left) side of the Howard house on Turkey Shore, which was constructed soon after William Howard purchased the property in 1679. A circa 1680 date is probable, after the death of Francis Jordan in 1678.

This house was purchased in the 1950s by Hollie Bucklin, a historical enthusiast who also owned and operated a book store in the adjoining property at 3 Spring Street. Bucklin greatly renovated both buildings, exposed the First Period framing in this house, and added a post-medieval revival cross-gable entry vestibule to the front of the house.

In a Publication of the Ipswich Historical Society and in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Volume 1, Thomas Franklin Waters referred to the “well-preserved old mansion beneath the spreading elms on the corner of East street and Hog Lane, later known as Spring St.” Waters theorized that the present house was built after Anthony Potter’s deed of 1708, but noted that the architecture appeared to be from an earlier period. The earliest possible owner, Francis Jordan, immigrated to Ipswich in 1634 and was established at this location in 1648, and expanded his property through purchases from adjoining owners in 1657, 1661, 1664 and 1671. (See deed and land registry notes below). Thomas Franklin Waters noted that in the 19th Century, an old foundation was discovered on the east slope behind the present house, along with old spoons of a type dating prior to the 18th Century.

Francis Jordan (1610 – 1678) arrived in Ipswich in 1634 at 24 years of age and was granted a lot on today’s Agawam Ave. / Spiller’s Lane adjoining the lots of John Perkins Jr. and Thomas Hardy (Essex Quarterly Courts, 7:85; Miner Descent). “Given and Granted unto John Pirkins Jun’r that he shall have six acres of Land, more or less, in equal share with Thomas Hardy and Francis Jordan, lying East and West of him, unto his heirs and assigns forever.” (Schofield, The Ancient Records of the Town of Ipswich, published in 1899). In approximately 1641 he purchased a lot with a house lot in the vicinity of 30 East St. from Samuel Bowman (Boarman?) “containing about one acre more or less situated in Ipswich which I bought of Edward Ketcham.” [Ipswich Land Records 3:188]. *In 1640 Edward Ketcham moved from Ipswich to Long Island, and finally to Stratford, Connecticut.

30 East Street, the Jordan - Snelling - Potter house
1980 photo from the MACRIS site
30 East Street in 1949
30 East Street in 1949, when the original saltbox extension was removed.
1966 postcard, “Hovey House, built before 1641, Home of Francis Jordan.”
1966 postcard, “Hovey House, built before 1641, Home of Francis Jordan.” The house was owned by the Hovey family for over 100 years in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Early settlers of Ipswich MA map
Francis Jordan’s lot is circled in Waters’ map #3 of early settlers of Ipswich.

Historic ownership and deeds

With notes from Thomas Franklin Waters: Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Volume 1

  • April 3, 1646: John Newman, husbandman, sold to William Goodhue, weaver, April 3, 1646, a house in Brook Street, between the dwelling house of Francis Jordan and Joseph Morse. This establishes the early residence of Francis Jordan near or at this location. (Salem Deeds book 14, page 53), (Hammatt, Early Inhabitants of Ipswich, p. 232).
  • 12 April 1651 – Samuel Bowman (aka Boardman?) deposed that he sold unto Francis Jordon of Ipswich about ten years ago “my house and house lot containing about one acre more or less situated in Ipswich which I bought of Edward Ketcham” [Ipswich Land Records 3:188]. Recorded 19 April, 1671. (Reference: Miner Descent). This establishes the approximate date of 1641 for Francis Jordan’s purchase.
  • In 1657 (day and month not given), John Morse of Ipswich sold to Francis Jordan “a parcel of land of fifteen or sixteen rod or thereabout out of a six-acre lot that was formerly my father’s Joseph Morse’s.”[Ipswich Land Records 2:212]. (Reference: Miner Descent).
  • September 24, 1664: John Morse (2) sold to Thomas Jordan, September 24, 1664, property which is described as “land that formerly was my father’s Joseph Morse’s.” (Hammatt, Early Inhabitants of Ipswich, pp. 229-230).
  • April 29, 1671 – Theophilus Shatswell of Ipswich sold to Francis Jordan “my right that I had in two acres of land at the upper end of Brook Street or Hog Lane, this land I had in lieu of a house lot I had where Goodman Lord now dwells, which Mr. Ward did desire to build on and had it.” (Ipswich Land Records 3:188: re: Miner Descent). This land is further up the street from Jordan’s residence.
  • Francis Jordan died April 24, 1678, age about 68. His will is dated the previous day and gives all his estate to his wife, Jane, to dispose of it to his children and grandchildren. His entire estate was valued at £262, 6s and included a house, barn and house lot, plus two acres of pasture and 4 1/2 acres planting land, of which £157 10s. was real estate: house and barn and home lot, £100. Ipswich Land Records, 4:195, 210-11; Essex County Probate Records, 3:245-46.
  • In her will, dated Dec. 10, 1689 and proved upon her death, Oct. 30, 1693, Jane Jordan of Ipswich, widow & relict of Francis Jordan deceased, late of said town, appointed Richard Belcher her executor, made provisions for her own maintenance and bequeathed lands and belongings in 6th parts to her daughters and grandchildren. The inventory of the goods & estate of Jane Jordan of Ipswich, relict of Francis Jordan, who deceased 4 Oct. 1693, taken 20 Oct. 1693, totaled £159 18s. 6d. In the account is the item, Paid Richard Belcher for keeping her 4 years 4 mos., 2 weeks at £14 per Anno & her funeral expenses, £60. 18′. 9d. (Essex County probate, 15244)
  • The executor of Jane Jordan’s estate, Richard Belcher of Charlestown, sold the house and land it sat on to John Potter, for 88 pounds, Dec. 22, 1708; “the messuage or tenement that was formerly Francis Jordan’s deceased,” about 2 acres, “bounded west by the lane commonly called Hog Lane (*Spring St.), and east by land of John Harris(20: 199). The deed specifies “the old house and new out houses.” The 15 year period between the widow’s death and her executor’s sale of the house is unexplained, perhaps because one or more of her daughters continued to occupy the house.
  • Daniel Potter sold the house and lot to Thomas Hovey 3d, fisherman, March 31, 1741 “a certain messuage or tenement” for the sum of 270 pounds. (81: 176). The threefold increase in the value of the property suggests a construction of a new house, or a substantial improvement or enlargement of the house during this time period. The upstairs east side room has beaded sheathing covering the beams and posts, a characteristic of Georgian-era houses.
  • At Hovey ‘s death, half the house and land was set off to his widow Rebecca, and the other half was sold by John Hovey to Ebenezer Hovey, April 29, 1777 (135: 122).
  • “Michael Hodge of Newburyport brought suit against Ebenezer Hodge, and execution was made upon his estate in favor of Hodge, Aug. 1787 (147: 31). Hodge sold to Ebenezer Hovey Jr., July 14, 1796. John Hohnes Hovey quitclaimed to Stephen Hovey, his interest in the house of his father, Ebenezer, “near Hovey ‘s Bridge,” July 21, 1827 (247 : 230).
  • “John H. and Izette Hovey sold the west half of the house to James Scott Jr., Oct. 29, 1870 (812: 221). Asa Lord sold the east half of the house to Perley Scott, . . . April, 1840 (537:227). The ancient house, still a comfortable dwelling, is now owned by Mr. James Damon, and Mrs. Edward Damon. The Town owned a gravel pit on the east side of the house in 1840, and used it, as long as the limits of the lot permitted.” (Waters)

Francis Jordan

Francis Jordan, born about 1610, immigrated to Ipswich, married Jane Wilson in 1635 ,and is named as an abutter in a land grant to John Perkins Jr. in 1641. At a court in 1650, Francis Jordan was appointed as the officer to execute corporal punishment, being allowed 20 pounds per year.” (Essex Court Files 1: 188.) Waters referred to him as the “town whipper.”

The following is an excerpt from Abraham Hammat’s Early Inhabitants of Ipswich:

“JORDAN, Francis, commoner, 1641, one of Major Denison’s subscribers, 1648 ; had a share in Plum Island, &c., 1664; surveyor of Highways, 1675. Died April 24, 1678. His will is dated April 23, 1678. He gives all his estate to his wife, Jane, to dispose of it to his children and grandchildren; and “may give it to them who behave themselves best towards her;” with liberty “to sell what part she may have occasion for her comfortable maintenance.”

In Francis Jordan’s will, his lot, house and barn were valued at £100. His entire estate was valued at £262, 6s. and included in addition, two acres of pasture and 4 1/2 acres planting land. The will of his widow, Jane Jordan, (who was commoner 1678) is dated Dec. 20, 1689, and was proved Oct. 28, 1693. She appoints Richard Belcher, who was probably her son-in-law, executor. She mentions a granddaughter, “Mary Simson, so called before marriage,” and a daughter, Jane Ward. She then directs her estate to be divided into six equal parts, and given to her granddaughters, Mary Belcher, Sarah George; daughters, Hannah Fowler, Mary. Kimball, Lydia White, each one sixth part; and one sixth part to the children of Deborah, late wife of Benjamin Goodridge, viz., Benjamin, Joseph, Daniel, Josiah. She mentions having paid John Kimball more than any of the rest. Inventory, Lieut. Symon Stace and John Harris, sen’r, overseers.

Children:

  1. Sarah Jordan, born Nov. 8, 1636, married James George by 1659.
  2. Hannah Jordan, born March 14, 1638 , married Thomas Fowler at Ipswich on April 23, 1660. 
  3. Mary Jordan, born 7 Apr 1639: died in August, 1639. 
  4. Mary Jordan, born May 16, 1641, married John Kimball on Oct. 8, 1666.
  5. Lydia Jordan, born Feb. 14, 1643 married first by 1664, Thomas Simson; married second George White on Apr. 5, 1671.
  6. DeborahJordan, born Dec. 4, 1647, married Benjamin Goodridge of Newbury on September 8, 1663, died at Newbury, Massachusetts on Nov. 28, 1676.
30 East St. Ipswich First Period dimensions
Dimensions, 30 East St. The west side appears to be the earliest part of the house.

Structural observations

Based on deeds and structural observations, all or part of the original two story hall and parlor house appears to have been constructed in the period within a decade of 1680. The frame of the house has massive 12″ x 12″ summer beams with beveled corners in both downstairs rooms, and First Period chamfer stops in the left room. The downstairs summer beams on both sides of the house are longitudinal, and are mortised into massive 16″ high beams in front of but not embedded in the fireplaces, an unusual configuration. The upstairs summer beams are 10″ wide and transverse in their orientation.

The steep roof pitch is found only in 17th Century houses and features principle rafter and common purlin construction similar to other houses in Essex County. The span between principle rafters is about 10′, and the purlins are undersized, with significant dips at the middle of the spans. Waters noted in “The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay” that during the late 17th Century, purlin size was reduced to the point of breakage over the years. This may indicate that the roof was constructed after 1708 when Anthony Potter purchased the property.

The west side has a cellar, while the east side does not, and it is possible that the west side is the earlier portion. The rear cellar wall and massive stone fireplace base both rest on a short but wide wall of un-mortared fieldstone. The left side fireplace has rounded inside corners, found in a few Ipswich houses, including the 1640 Hart house (1678), the Shoreborne Wilson – Samuel Appleton house (1685) and the Whipple House (1675/1725). The right side fireplace has been reconstructed with newer bricks, but is similar in width to fireplaces dating to the late 17th Century.

The original lean-to was removed in the mid-20th Century, and the present lean-to was added in 1967. A 2-story enclosed post-medieval gable porch was added to the front in 1968, both by the owner at that time, Hollie Bucklin. Bucklin also removed much of the plaster and other interior modifications that had been added in the 18th -20th Centuries.

The photos below were taken by Gordon Harris with permission from the owner/seller to post them on this site.

30 East St., Ipswich MA right elevation
30 East St., Ipswich MA right elevation
Summer beam and girt, 30 East St., Ipswich
Summer beam and girt, 30 East St., Ipswich. The windows date to the 1960s. The white substance is mildew, not whitewash
Stair post, winder and chimney block at front entrance, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Stair post, winder and chimney block at front entrance, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Summer beam, transverse beam and rebuilt fireplace, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Summer beam, chimney girt and rebuilt fireplace, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Summer beam with chamfer stop, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Summer beam with chamfer stop, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Left side rounded fireplace with smoke channel. Summer beam intersection with transverse beam, 30 East St.
Left side rounded fireplace with smoke channel. Summer beam intersection with chimney girt, 30 East St. A very similar configuration and size of the fireplace girts is in the Howard house on Turkey Shore in Ipswich.
Summer beam intersecting transverse beam at fireplace, 30 East St., Ipswich
Summer beam intersecting chimney girt at fireplace, 30 East St., Ipswich
Summer beam and chimney girt in the William Howard house
For comparison, a very similarly sized and configured summer beam and chimney girt in the c. 1680 left side of the William Howard house on Turkey Shore in Ipswich. The original fireplace in the Howard house was replaced with a smaller Rumford design with coved plaster above it. The size of the chimney girt in the two houses is similar.
 fireplace with rare rounded corners and an unusual smoke shelf.
Left side downstairs fireplace with rare rounded corners and an unusual smoke shelf. Rounded corners are also found in the original 2 rooms of the Hart House, constructed in 1678, which are now on display at the Metropolitan and Winterthur Museums. Richard Irons noted that the form predates Puritan colonization, and is generally found in finer First Period homes.
Corner oven, right side fireplace, 30 East St.
Corner oven, right side fireplace, 30 East St.
Girts, beam and gunstock post, second floor, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Girts, beam and gunstock post, second floor, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Horizontal and transverse beam, 30 East St., Ipswich
Upstairs west side summer beam and rear beam, 30 East St., Ipswich
Upstairs fireplace with clay mortar, 30 East St., Ipswich
Upstairs fireplace with clay mortar, 30 East St., Ipswich
scribe marks and saw marks under floor boards are found throughout 30 East St.
Scribe marks and saw marks under floor boards are visible throughout 30 East St. These are from the east downstairs side.
Principal rafter and common purlin roof construction, 30 East St., Ipswich MA
Principal rafter and common purlin roof construction, 30 East St., Ipswich MA. Some of the purlins are sagging in the middle due to the 10′ span and undersized construction, found also in the Matthew Perkins house (1701).

Sources:

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1 thought on “30 East St., Ipswich MA, the “Francis Jordan house”, c. 1670”

  1. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to live in such a dark house, so it’s no wonder that First Period houses were quickly Georganized. I had to use my phone flashlight to know what I was seeing. Even with a flash, many of my photos were so dark that they had to be Photoshopped. This may have been the once in a life time opportunity for me to document and photograph an exposed 17th Century interior before it is again modernized. The frame alone is museum quality, but an enigma. Who wants to buy a house to restore and maintain it as a museum? The Whipple House may be the best First Period frame in America, but its upkeep is a financial drain for the museum. I hope a lover of antique houses and old towns grabs this up and has very deep pockets. They will have to make substantial alterations to make it livable. These old houses are still here because their 18th and 19th Century owners couldn’t afford to replace them, and their was a surge of appreciation for them in the first half of the 20th Century. They survive in the 21st Century only because of people who make the financial commitment, and are willing to take on a lot of expensive work to save architectural treasures and live in them. The Ipswich Architectural Preservation District is a compromise that made it possible for the town to its prevent demolition, including the 17th Century frame. We agree that the next owners will need to live in it comfortably, but I greatly encourage them to seek our advice and experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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