A familiar buzz surrounded Olde Ipswich Days, but it wasn't a chainsaw.
People bustled from the Heard House and the vendor tents on the South Green to attend groundbreaking ceremonies for the Alexander Knight House on the Whipple House Green -- a live, on-going exhibit recreating the First Period, timber-frame house. Craftsmen will use only period tools, materials and techniques to construct the house.
The crowd gathered to hear more about the project and had a chance to talk one-on-one with the team members about their role in building this permanent structure that will be donated to the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum upon completion next year.
The core team includes: Mat Cummings, Cummings Architects; James D. Whidden, Woodwright, LLC; Richard Irons, Restoration Masons; Susan S. Nelson, Architectural Historian; and Tim Chouinard, landscape specialist. Also present was Johanne Cassia, folk artist whose original artwork of the intended Alexander Knight House graced the sign in front of the site.
On hand to assist with the first pass at digging and to announce and the project was State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. President of the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum, Fred Hale pitched in and all were handed shovels to dig the foundation by hand in keeping with the project's mission to use only period tools and methods.
"We are witnessing history yet again being made in Ipswich as we salute the Alexander Knight House team and the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum in helping to further our education and knowledge of how our earliest settlers may have once lived and built their homes," said Tarr. "It is a true testimony to the incredible resources we have in our community and I am grateful for their ingenuity, creativity and tremendous donation of time, labor and materials."
With the ground staked for a 16' by 12' foundation and participants ready for action, they began digging just before noon. Onlookers' curiosity piqued and many stopped by to ask about the excavation. "You might even hit clams down there," one resident quipped.
By the end of the day, the depth and level was nearly reached, sweat-soaked shirts a testimony to the work required.
Lying nearby were at least a half-dozen large boulders of varying sizes. Once the foundation is dug to about 5 feet, Tim Chouinard, the site planner and stonemason will use these as the base for the root cellar and the chimney foundation.
Shawn Cayer, owner of Windhill Realty LLC, donated the boulders from the recent excavation of a familiar historical site at 16 Market St.
"It is a tremendous and wonderful opportunity to witness this dedication, as it will benefit not only our community but have far-reaching effects," said Miles. "We are proud that Ipswich has the largest collection of First Period homes in the country. We wish the team and the society best of luck and blessings, blessings, blessings."