Alexander Knight House, 1657
A re-creation of an early, English-style timber frame house from 1657 as described in Ipswich town records. An on-going, live exhibit; building with traditional tools, materials and construction methods of the First Period (1625–1725).
The Ipswich Museum offered the location to host this memorable project resulting in an authentic first period re-creation. This live exhibit presently features demonstrations and discussions about the process of home building in early American history. Once completed, the AKH Team will make a gift of the building to the Ipswich Museum. The donated structure will become a permanent exhibit on the grounds of the 1677 Whipple House offering a chance to see and experience how an ordinary person lived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Special hands-on opportunities, like open hearth cooking displays, will be possible in this re-created house; in a way that the Museum’s historic and fragile buildings cannot accommodate.
About the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum:
Organized in 1890 and chartered in 1898 by Reverend Thomas Franklin Waters and joined by preservationist George Francis Dow, the gentleman’s society housed and collected many First and Second Period Ipswich historic artifacts, famous paintings (including Arthur Wesley Dow) and documents—quite notably the largest collection in the country. Today these treasures showcasing Ipswich’s rich and diverse history can be viewed at both the Heard and Whipple houses South Village Green, Ipswich, MA located in the Essex National Heritage Area and a National Historic Landmark.
Alexander Knight House
- James D. Whidden ~ Housewright I
- Matthew J. M. Diana ~ Housewright II
- Mathew Cummings ~ Architect
- Richard Irons ~ Restoration Mason
- Susan S. Nelson ~ Architectural Historian
- Tim Chouinard ~ Hardscape Designer & Builder
- Cynda Warren Joyce ~ Visual Artist
- Michael French ~ Master Thatcher
The AKH Team, along with others and a generous donation (for materials only) are working to provide this gift of the past to the Ipswich Museum for present and future citizens.
The original concept for the project developed when Jim Whidden and Mat Cummings decided to combine their love of history and building to create a lasting contribution to the Town of Ipswich and the Ipswich Historical Society. After working on First and Second Period houses in Ipswich, appreciation and respect grew between them and fueled their mutual passion for antique homes.
The work Jim and Mat perform allows them a unique view into the past when the skeletons of these facinating old buildings are revealed during the restoration process. As Jim strips away the layers of time, details appear that haven't been seen since the original construction. Real determinations can be made through this process though often more questions arise than are answered.
Involved in various preservation jobs, they also work with Richard Irons who repairs and restores the masonry. Sue Nelson is sometimes engaged researching town and county records to help establish the homes' individual histories. A building's details become documented through her attention and awareness of history. Tim Chouinard works on many of the same properties and has an active interest in both nature and architecture.
Cynda Warren Joyce provides the documentation of the project ; photography, videography, the website, blog, facebook page and sometimes brings lunch.
The Ipswich Knight House team represents some of the finest craftsmen and award winning designers, sharing a keen interest and knowledge of early architecture and dedication to enduring quality.
James David Whidden
A master joiner for over 20 years, Jim’s unique abilities enable him to take a project from the rugged timber frame construction through all other building stages to the fine interior finish details. Knowledge of history, and the techniques and tools used by the master builders of the past, raise Jim’s standard of quality and provide a superior finished product for his clients. Jim’s talent has produced work ranging from fine reproduction period furniture to authentic timber frame houses and barns. Specializing in restoration, Jim’s woodworking shop is in Ashburnham, MA, but his projects are primarily on the North Shore including some of the oldest homes in New England. Some of Jim’s restoration work can be seen at the
Day-Dodge House, c. 1747, Ipswich
Captain Sutton House, c. 1690, Ipswich
Daniel Lummus House, c. 1715, Ipswich
The Widow Fuller House, c. 1725, Ipswich
Jacob Fairbanks House, c. 1780, Ashburnham
96 Hastings Road, Ashburnham, MA 01430
Matthew J. M. Diana
With an avid interest in history, Matt attended the Preservation Carpentry program at the North Bennet Street School; the study and hands on training of architecture and building techniques of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Matt has worked with other preservation specialists, including James Whidden, and gained years of experience working on some of the oldest houses in the nation.Historic knowledge and a degree in Mechanical Engineering result in efficient problem solving and artistic attention to detail for a quality, well thought out construction experience for your most important investment: your home.
Clapp House, c. 1806, Dorchester, MA
Newmarch, Martha-Spiller, Hannah House
C. 1790, Ipswich, MA
101 West Main Street, Georgetown, MA 01833
Principal, Cummings Architects and First VP, Ipswich Museum.
Architecture is Mathew’s passion in life, and he has spent most of the last 23 years gaining valuable professional experience. His firm is devoted to individual designs, specific to each client’s needs and personality; often exceeding their hopes and dreams in both imagination and quality. He dedicates much of what little free time he has to preserving significant historic architecture by working alongside the Ipswich Museum. Cummings Architects is a small residential architecture firm in downtown Ipswich, specializing in new home designs, additions to existing homes, and historic preservations. Some of Mat’s period restoration work can be seen in the
Day-Dodge House, c. 1747, Ipswich
Daniel Lummus House, c. 1715, Ipswich
Captain Sutton House, c. 1690, Ipswich
Principal, Restoration Masons.
Richard has thirty five years of exceptional dedication to preserving, restoring, and reproducing historic masonry. His work can be found in the National Park Service and some of the most famous and historic house museums in the country. We are passionate about the masonry in old houses. In Sturbridge Village and Old York Museum his fireplaces and bake ovens are used for public, open hearth cooking demonstration.
All work conforms to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standard for Historic Preservation National Code.
12 Burnham Road, Limerick, ME 04048
Susan S. Nelson
Principal of Goodship Research.
Sue has worked extensively to record Ipswich’s many historic buildings for the Ipswich Historical Commission and private homeowners.
During the Bi-centennial year, Sue and her husband Jim bought and began to repair and restore the CA 1774 Elizabeth Kimball Warner Lord house on High Street. The puzzles of restoration rapidly drew Sue into the orbit of the late Mary Conley, and she served on the Master Plan Commission Subcommittee on Historic Preservation that Mary chaired in the mid 1980’s. Sue was one of the principal framers of the Town’s first Demolition Delay Bylaw, written and proposed by the subcommittee. Thereafter she served for six years on Ipswich’s Historical Commission.
Sue attended Boston University from 1995-98, receiving her M.A. in Historic Preservation in 1998. She has consulted to the Smithsonian Institution, providing research for the “Within These Walls” exhibit of Ipswich’s Hart-Choate House.
Sue has served as a trustee of the Ipswich Museum and is an active member. The enormous challenges of studying and preserving the museum’s significant structures, and the support of the project to recreate the c. 1657 Alexander Knight House have made these years tremendously exciting and rewarding for her.
In the Fall of 2010 Sue received the Mary P. Conley Historic Preservation Award from the Ipswich Historical Commission for “ her scholarly dedication and valuable contributions to historic preservation in Ipswich.”
Principal, C.H.S. Landscape Concepts.
Tim has 26 years of experience combining walls, patios, walkways, and water features into custom environments. Inspired by both nature and architecture, he travels to places like Ireland and Belize to study their enduring stone structures.
CWJ Designs is the result of over 30 years involvement with visual art. In the beginning Cynda designed hand drawn, pen and ink logos, illustrations and lettering. She continued with sign painting; signs, trucks and boats, all hand lettered with quill brushes and oil base enamel; done without computer graphics or vinyl cutting machines. She also designed and drafted engineering plans, drafted architectural plans and renderings—all hand drawn with ink or pencil on mylar or vellum.
Cynda went on to learn new technology and acquired certificates in, both print and web, computer graphic design. Using state of the art graphics programs and her experience with a range of disciplines, she provides visual art services by designing and managing: some of the printed materials, the website, blog and facebook page. Additionally, her photography and videography help to tell the story.
Cynda also produces fine art including illustrations, paintings and sculpture—created with patience, care and great attention to detail.
178 Hastings Road, Asburnham, MA 01430
Photography, Illustrtions and website by Cynda Warren Joyce, CWJ Designs
The Ipswich Knight House Team includes:
James D. Whidden, James Whidden ~ Woodright, LLC,
Matthew J. M. Diana, MJMD Housewright,
Mat Cummings, Cummings Architects,
Richard Irons, Restoration Masons,
Susan S. Nelson, Architectural historian and principal of Goodship Research
Tim Chouinard, C.H.S. Landscape Concepts
Cynda Warren Joyce,
Collaborating and donating time and services:
Plimoth Plantation Interpretive Artisans: Shann Whynot Young, Michael French, Rick McKee, Justin Keegan
Taylor Sawmill, Derry NH, Robert Spoerl,
Ledyard Sawmill, Ledyard CT, Alan Ganong, Warren Dolphin,
Old Sturbridge Village, Tom Kelleher, Jeremy R Brown,
In addition, marketing and communications consultants have included Jamie Wallace, ; Lisa-Marie Cashman, principal of The Cashman Group ; Martin Sorger, ; have not only help recreate the story of the past, but also will bring light to the significance of this project for the local community. Thanks to local artist Johanne Cassia for her original oil painting depicting the Alexander Knight House.
There have been participants throughout the process to date who have helped to dig and lay the foundation, learned how to hew using a hewing ax and an English ax, mixed clay for the chimney daubing, helped to prepare thatch for the roof and stopped by the site with questions and conversations. Other services have been donated, a sign provided - very special thanks to the Taylor Saw Mill, and Old Sturbridge Village for their time and cutting. With the knowledgeable help, donation of time, labor and materials by the artisans at Plimoth Plantation the AKH will have a thatched roof. Kai Colombo of donated an authentic leaded glass window as well as time spent daubing and thatching! Jeremy R Brown, has performed much work on the fireplace and chimney and has comitted to the maintenance for the future. This list will be long by the end of the project, forgive us if we haven't thanked you here, we do appreciate your efforts!
Updated 4 September 2013