On the Market: An Antique Beauty on the Ipswich River
This 1600s build is a prototype of early American architecture that's been preserved over the years by Caldecott-winning children's illustrator Ed Emberley and his author wife, Barbara.
6 Water St., Ipswich
Size: 3,672 square feet
Bathrooms: 3 full, 1 partial
It takes a person with vision and antiquarian sensibilities to maintain a historic property like this one. Dubbed the Preston-Foster House, this home was built on Ipswich River shores in the 1600s during the First Period, an era of colonial American architecture popular from about 1626 through 1725. As such, this house sports hallmarks of that time, which include a pitched roof, central chimney, chamfered framing, and beamed ceilings.
There are more First Period-style homes remaining in Essex County than anywhere else in the country, according to local experts. Within Essex County, Ipswich has retained the most First Period houses (nearly 60), making homes built in this style unique to this area. Luckily, the Preston-Foster House’s long-time owners—children’s book illustrator Ed Emberley and his author wife, Barbara—appreciated this historical context and spent the 60-plus years they lived here preserving the home’s period charm while also gently ushering it into the 21st century.
The Preston-Foster House still boasts antique features like broad ceiling beams and unpainted feather-edged paneling. A massive fireplace still serves as the home’s centerpiece while the warm wood interior inspires a cozy cabin-like feel. But the Emberley family kept the place updated, so it’s comfortably modern. Purchasing the house in 1962 for $15,000, Barbara and Ed built a two-story addition in the 1970s; in 2014, a renovation included a first-floor bedroom suite with a stunning spa-like bathroom. The home’s heating and cooling systems have been updated, as has the cedar shake roof. There’s also a separate office/workspace where Emberley worked on his craft for decades.
Outside, the new owners can enjoy the professionally designed and maintained gardens overlooking the river. The home is within walking distance of the Town Wharf; Ipswich’s other offerings include restaurants, shops, a library, Crane Beach, and a commuter rail station, connecting this riverside time capsule to present-day Boston in less than an hour.
For more information, contact the Monahan Barker Team, Landvest, landvest.com.
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