Spring Break-Away

I’ve got a (virtual) stack of papers to correct but yesterday I gave myself the morning off to go visit the Patton Homestead in nearby Hamilton, the summer home of General George S. Patton Jr. and farm of his son Major General George S. Patton IV. We are in World War II week of our #SalemTogether project, and I had been reading about Beatrice Ayer Patton, a North Shore native who lived at the homestead during the war and after her husband’s death in Germany in December of 1945. Mrs. Patton was the guest of honor at Salem’s most spectacular war bond rally, held on the Common in September of 1943, and as all of the descriptions of her character and personality in the press accounts of this event were glowing, I wanted to see her house and garden. The Patton Homestead was donated to the town of Hamilton by the Patton family a few years ago: it’s a lovely late eighteenth-century house surrounded by outbuildings and fields named for heroes of the Vietnam War. The house was closed of course, but the grounds were open, and I spent a good bit of time wandering around, so much time that the morning was shot and I thought, well I might as well take the day. 

20200504_124358The Patton Homestead, Hamilton

Ipswich is right next to Hamilton, so I though I might as well drive up there and check out some of my favorite houses—there are so many. Once in Ipswich, I thought, why not drive up to Newbury and Newburyport along Route 1A and the marshes? Once in Newburyport, I thought, why don’t I drive along the Merrimack River for a while? Once in Haverhill, I thought, I’ll drive home along Route 97, which is such a pretty road. But I kept taking side roads, and stopping to look at houses, so it was dinnertime before I made it home to Salem. But I have no regrets: it was a warm spring day and I needed a getaway, mask in hand and on my face whenever I got out of the car.

An Essex County loop—some house “markers” along the way, Ipswich up and around to Topsfield:






20200504_140333Ipswich: the Whipple & Heard houses and just a few beautifully preserved Colonials—there are so many more!




20200504_145911Newbury and Newburyport: one of my favorite houses in the County, on Newbury’s Lower Green, plus the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm (this is where you go if you really want to get away and pretend you are in England); just one house in Newburyport as I’ve featured so many in previous posts, but I couldn’t resist this little charmer!



Two houses in Georgetown, above: I’ve always loved this bottom house, so prominently situated with its Tory chimneys. Below: the Holyoke-French House and a nearby farmhouse in Boxford Village (Boxford is a lovely town but it has no sidewalks, which I find perplexing and unfriendly). Finishing up at the Parson Capen House in Topsfield.




7 responses to “Spring Break-Away

  • Nancy

    Oh, how many times have I traveled in my mind to Ipswich, which I have visited twice (and written about)! I believe Ipswich has the most First Period Homes remaining in America, quite a distinction. Once, it was the place for ships and such, but Salem soon took that distinction and, as a result, lost many of its First Period houses to “progress.” In retrospect, it turned out to be lucky for Ipswich that it didn’t grow like that. It remains a quiet town, perfect for writers and artists and ghosts of the past…

  • Helen Breen

    Hi Donna,

    Thanks for sharing your excursion around Ipswich, Hamilton, Rowley, Newbury etc. One of my favorite drives. My dear sister was a Notre Dame nun who lived in their retirement compound on Jeffery’s Neck in Ipswich for several years. I took her on many leisurely drives so I know how “way leads on to ways” in those historic towns.

    Also my grandson graduated last year from Governors Academy in Newbury. Their campus includes such beautiful, peaceful marshland. Always a pleasure to drive through.

    Let’s hope that soon we will be able to stop at a farm stand, clam shack, or pub along the way up there …

  • Jenni Haas

    Thank you for the trip around New England. Loved it!! Would love a post about Hannah Duston next time you travel to Haverhill.

  • dccarletonjr

    You’re making me homesick, Donna!

  • Lou Sirianni

    Lovely tour…..especially Thank you for reminding me about Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm.

  • sandyd373

    You’re making me homesick! Such treasures in that part of Essex county. Thank you for stopping to take photographs.

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