1837 – Of the light houses mentioned above, the two at Ipswich have been built and fitted up for five thousand seven hundred and forty dollars, being one thousand two hundred and sixty dollars less than the appropriation; the one at Ned's point has been built and fitted up for three thousand eight hundred dollars, less than the appropriation twelve hundred dollars.
1838 – Ipswich lights.—These lights are in good order, but are very badly constructed; the upper frame is the same size of the lower frame, and exposes the reflectors to the blaze of the lower lights.
1842 – I.W.P. Lewis Report
Double lights, fixed and revolving, seven lamps each; established in 1837.
Condition of buildings.
Towers of brick, twenty-nine feet high, laid up in bad lime mortar, and the outside plastered with cement; base course of brick work rests directly upon the sand, without any kind of foundation whatever; soapstone roofs, loose and leaky. The towers stand five hundred and forty-two feet distant from each other, and are precisely similar in every particular of their construction, which is of a most superficial and hurried character. Both towers leak in all directions, as the coating of green inside plainly indicates. The cement has scaled off the outside wherever a soft brick was used in the work.
The dwelling-house is also of brick, with shingled roof, which leaks about the chimneys; three rooms on the first floor, and two attic chambers; window casings leaky, and wood work decayed; sand blown away from around the house, and door steps undermined and fallen away; keeper has embanked the base walls to prevent a similar result.
Lanterns similar in all respects, viz: octagonal iron frames; domes coppered; height of side, six feet two inches; diameter at angles, seven feet; Glazed with 10 by 12 impure glass; sash bars three-quarters of an inch wide; angles three and one-quarter inches wide. Towers stand nearly east and west from each other.
Eastern light fixed; seven lamps, 3/4-inch burners, with 13-inch reflectors, arranged in two series, of four each, on circular iron frames, twenty-nine inches diameter; reflectors four to six inches apart, and five out of perpendicular form one-quarter to seven-eighths of an inch. Position of burners, as to apex of reflectors, varies from two and one-quarter to two and seven-eighths inches.
Ventilation. For ingress of air, floor scuttle; for egress, seven inches.
Western light revolving; seven lamps, 3/4-inch burners, with 13 1/2-inch reflectors, attached to two opposite sides of a segmental frame, the same as Nos. 3, 19, &c.; four lamps on one face, three on the other; reflectors all out of plumb from one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch; position of burners, as to apex of reflectors, varies from two and a half to three inches.
Ventilation. Same as east lantern.
Machine of rotation placed at head of staircase, beneath the lantern floor, same as No. 28. The motive weight is an old nail cask, filled with stones; the pulleys common 7-inch blocks, such as are used on board ship. The whole apparatus in both lanterns of the rudest kind. Both lanterns very leaky and rickety. The revolving light stops frequently from the awkward arrangement of its machinery, and the dust that sifts through the lantern floor above. Centre of the light is thirty-nine feet above the level of mean high water, and should be seen easily in clear weather nine and one-third miles.
Location. On Patch’s beach at the mouth of Ipswich river, leading lights to clear the south shoals and bar of Plum island. When these two light-houses were erected, in 1837, they were placed in a line with the axis of the channel over the bar; but since then the channel has shifted to the southward, and they are no longer in range. A stranger attempting to enter the Ipswich river by aid of these lights, as directed in the Coast Pilot, would run ashore in the south spit of Plum island, which has increase in extent very much within a few years. The revolving light must be kept open to the southward of the fixed light, about two yards apparently, to clear the spit.
During the first two years the Ipswich lights were in operation, they were both fixed lights - precisely similar in appearance to the doubled fixed lights on the north end of Plum island, nine miles distant. This resemblance of one to the other having led to some serious mistakes on the part of navigators, the character of the Ipswich lights was altered, by making one of them a revolving light. Originally there were ten lamps in each; but it was found that three lamps in each were directed in land to no purpose, and two years ago the superfluous number of six lamps were removed.
One lamp in each lantern, of a proper form, is all the navigation requires here, instead of fourteen now used.
Statement of Joseph Dennis, keeper of Ipswich double lights, August 19th, 1842. I was appointed keeper of these lights April 1, 1841, upon a salary of $400. The towers stand upon a sand beacon five hundred and forty-two feet apart, are built of brick, the bases being but two feet below the surface, without any thing to serve as a foundation. Both towers leak about the decks, so that the water runs through and covers the stairs with ice during the winter. Both lanterns are also very leaky - so much so as to injure the reflectors by spattering water upon them, and also breaking the tube glasses when the lamps are lighted. One of the lights is revolving. The machine is set in motion by means of a weight, formed of an old nail cask filled with stones. This machine often stops without any apparent cause, by reason of which these lights are likely to be mistaken for two fixed lights at Newburyport. When these lights were first erected, they were placed in channel range; but the northern spit of the bar has gradually grown towards the south, so that the lights no longer range in line with the channel, but over the spit. Vessels entering, who are acquainted, therefore, keep the revolving light open to the southward. These lights were originally both fixed lights, the same as those at Plum island, which are but nine miles distant. The alteration of one of the lights to a revolving light was made in consequence of their being mistaken for the Plum island light. The distance from here to Squam light is called five miles.
The reflectors now in use at these lights are much worn, the silver being off in several places and the lustre gone; there are several required repairing, the hooks being broken. The dwelling-house is built of brick, two rooms on the floor, and two attic chambers; also a kitchen back. The house leaks about the chimneys, through the roof, and at the southern door. I paid the late keeper between sixty and seventy dollars for improvements on the house, viz: inside shutters to windows, clothes press, closet in the kitchen. The late keeper removed a porch from the east door, and also a fence. The sand has blown away from around the house, undermining the front door steps, which are of wood and much decayed. I am not allowed a boat. There were removed before I came here three lamps from the fixed light and three lamps from the revolving light; there are now remaining seven lamps each.
I employed a man last fall to make an embankment round the base of the dwelling-house, to prevent the sand from blowing away, and also to keep the vegetables from freezing in the cellar. There are two spar buoys laying on the beach, which drifted from their moorings in the channel. I gave notice of this fact last January.
Joseph Dennis, Keeper
1842 – I.W.P Lewis Report: The light-houses of Massachusetts are constructed of rubble stone, brick, or wood, the details being in all respects the same as those upon the coast of Maine. The same neglect of securing the foundations is common to all. This defect is most remarkable among the brick towers, as well as keepers’ houses, erected upon the sands of Cape Cod and other locations. The contractors have simply smoothed off the surface of the sand to a level and laid their brick-work thereon, without footings, platforms, or any preparation whatever. At Ipswich there are two brick towers, their bases being eight courses below the surface. On scraping away the sand, the base course of brick could be removed by hand, and the mortar had apparently never set. At Billingsgate island, the keeper stated, that, a few months after his dwelling-house was erected, (of brick laid on the sand, tower of wood on the roof,) the front wall fell entirely down, leaving the interior exposed to view. All the brick light-houses and keepers’ dwellings that were visited were of a similar character. The contractors, to save material, filled the interior of the walls with rubbish of various kinds.
1850 – Ipswich light-house. – 8 lamps; John J. Philbrook, keeper; supplied August 13, 1850.
There are two light-houses here. The western tower had revolving lamps; the clock runs well. Lanterns want reglazing; lantern decks are leaky about the joints of the soapstone, of which the decks are built. Reflectors, lamps, and oil-butts are good. The shingles upon the roof of the dwelling need renailing. Eight lamps have been burning the year past, and there are now burning seven. This present keeper has taken charge of this establishment within the past year.
Left August 4, 1849 584 gallons. Found on hand 160 gallons. 424 gallons consumed in 374 days is equal to 413 gallons per year, or 51 5/8 gallons per lamp.
Delivered 100 gallons spring oil, 100 gallons winter oil, on hand 160 gallons, for a total of 360.
50 tube glasses; 30 yards cloth; 4 gross wicks; 2 buff skins; 2 pair scissors; 1 hand-lantern; 1 Japan lamp; 1 half-round file; 1 box soap;
Several spare lamps in order; common burners; 14-inch reflectors.
1855 – Keeper Thomas S. Greenwood $400
1867 – At Ipswich, in June, the range light was moved 550 feet, to a point on the range of the main light and a new channel formed by the shifting of the bar. In November last, the plunk platform and walks to towers were repaired, gutters put on barn with leader to the cistern, zinc lining for base of bug-light lantern, and doors and windows repaired.
1868 – Ipswich harbor and beacon.—Dwelling thoroughly repaired, with new windows, cistern, and well-pumps; stove fixtures, door latches, cellar case, shelving in cellar; exterior wood-work repainted; porch reshingled, and space enclosed from porch to privy; illuminating apparatus examined; revolving machinery cleaned; a set of new lens trucks of bronze supplied; burners repaired; new cooking-stove and accessories supplied. The plank walk leading from the dwelling to the range light, 989 feet in length, requires renewal.
1869 – Ipswich and beacon.—The kitchen chimney has been topped out and arched with brick laid in cement mortar, in place of the iron ventilator which was blown off. Four door latches, two cupboard catches, and six panes 8" x 10" glass have been supplied. Early in the year slight repairs of the plank walk from dwelling to tower were made, and new posts and sills for beacon supplied. Recently the entire walk, 989 feet in length, has been renewed. The beacon has been remodeled and moved 130 feet to the range of the main light with the buoys, in the channel across the bar. The illuminating apparatus has been overhauled, and the revolving machinery cleaned and oiled. At present the station is in good repair and order; but the dwelling is damp, being of brick, and standing upon low land, At the edge of a marsh. The difficulty seems to be due to the location of the station, and unavoidable.
1874 – Ipswich, entrance Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.—The roof of the keeper’s dwelling has been partially reshingled, new saddleboards put on, cellar bulk-head rebuilt, and barn partially reboarded.
1877 – Ipswich, entrance to Ipswich River, Massachusetts.—The main tower is old, and in bad order. A new tower is needed, and an appropriation of $6,000 is asked for this purpose. In November a lamp burning mineral-oil was substituted for the argand fountain-lamp in the front light with the same good results as at Newburyport.
1878 – Ipswich, entrance to Ipswich River, Massachusetts.—The roofs of the dwelling and porch, which were in bad condition, were repaired. The light-house tower is very badly cracked, and will not hold out another year. The house also requires extensive repairs. The beacon light is on land which does not belong to the United States. For the purpose of rebuilding tower, repairing dwelling, and purchasing site for beacon, an appropriation of $10,000 is recommended.
1880 – Ipswich, entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.—The dwelling has been rebuilt, and the materials for a new tower for the main light are on the site and will soon be erected.
1881 – Ipswich, entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.—The iron tower for the main light of this station was erected and completed during the year, which completes the work of renovation provided for by the appropriation of Congress.
1883 – Ipswich, on south side of entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.—The frame underpinning of the range-light house was renewed.
1885 – Ipswich, south side of entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.—The range-beacon was moved 97 feet to the southward, 250 feet of the plank walk were rebuilt, and other minor repairs were made.
1887 – Ipswich, Castle Neck, entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.— The basin formed around the dwelling by the blowing away of sand was filled, and a sand hill, which threatened the obstruction of the range-light, was cut down. A new concrete floor was laid in the cellar and other minor repairs were made.
1889 – Ipswich, entrance to the harbor, Massachusetts.—The barn was rebuilt, the beacon-house repaired, and 80 feet of sand-catching fences erected.
1895 – Ipswich, mouth of Ipswich River, Massachusetts.—The walks between the dwelling, tower, and beacon house were rebuilt. Various repairs were made.
1899 – Ipswich, south side of entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.— The front range light, which was discontinued August 2, 1898, was reestablished on a new line February 2, 1899, and a new front beacon was built. Various repairs were made.
1900 – Ipswich, south side of entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.—The front beacon was moved to a new site to adapt the range to a change in the channel. The front beacon house was rebuilt, 375 running feet of plank walk was laid, and minor repairs were made to the dwelling.
1903 – Ipswich range, south side of entrance to Ipswich Harbor Massachusetts.—A new revolving machine was installed. Various repairs were made.
1904 – During the year oil houses were built at Ipswich, Broad Sound Channel Range, Long Point, Billingsgate Island, Brand Point, and Nantucket Cliff Range light-stations.
1905 – Ipswich range, south side of entrance to Ipswich Harbor, Massachusetts.—The front range tower was moved to mark the new location of the channel. Various repairs were made.
1917 – A.A. Howard, keeper, furnished food, dry clothing, and lodging to captain and crew. Schooner George M. Warner, of Yarmouth, N.S.
1932 – Front range light was discontinued and rear light was automated.
1939 – The metal tower at Ipswich, around which sand had often built up, was barged to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard to replace a lighthouse damaged in the 1938 hurricane. A skeletal tower was erected to display a light at Ipswich.
Keepers: Thomas S. Greenwood (1837 – 1841), Joseph Dennis (1841 – 1843), Ebenezer Pulsifer (1843 – 1847), Thomas S. Greenwood (1847 – 1849), John S. Philbrook (1849 – 1853), Thomas S. Greenwood (1853 – 1861), Benjamin Ellsworth (1861 – 1902), Benson Katheen (1902), Mills Gunderson (1902 – 1910), Thomas J. Creed (1910 – 1912), George A. Howard (1912 – 1916), Alfred A. Howard (1916 – 1919), George F. Woodman, Jr. (1919 – 1922), Carl D. Hill (1922 – 1932).