The Oldest Continuously Operating Great Experience

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Ipswich. History. Synonymous.

Ya gotta love this town.

As a history fanatic, I was fated to fall in love with Ipswich. Especially after living in Arizona — a state so new, they put historical markers on 50-year-old buildings. People gazing in wonder at something built when Ike was President — it’s embarrassing. (“Look, Jimmy! They had developed concrete by this time!”) I realized as I left Arizona, after 20-some years, that I had lived there almost one-quarter of that state’s entire history.

Ipswich, on the other hand, has roots. Serious, deep, historical roots. The oldest continuously operating roots in America.

Before you’ve lived here very long, you learn that this is one of the oldest continuously operating communities in America (Masconomet and his Indians did not get to vote on it). To document this, we actually have one of the oldest continuously operating historical societies in America (although they now hide from anti-historical-society bias behind their new modern name, the Ipswich Museum). And as you drive down the street, you see Ipswich Historical Commission plaques on numerous antique houses — this is the oldest continuously operating house-construction-date-certifying effort in America.

From the earliest days, when John Winthrop Jr. found the clam beds his father sent him looking for, Ipswich has existed without interruption — which gives a leg up to just about any local Ipswich enterprise in the “oldest continuously operating” sweepstakes. We must have one of the oldest continuously operating school systems, and fire departments, and court operations. In my neighborhood, folks lay claim to America’s oldest continuously operating sump pumps. Thank goodness. Temporarily inoperative sump pumps are a pain.

Entering town from the south or east, you’re likely to cross the Choate Bridge — yes, it’s the oldest continuously operating stone arch bridge in America. It spans the mighty Ipswich — which must certainly be one of the oldest continuously operating rivers in America. We have some of the oldest continuously operating roads, and some of the oldest continuously operating potholes. We have some of the oldest continuously operating churches, some of the oldest continuously operating cemeteries. Of course, it’s up to you to define “operating.”

Ipswich is known as the “birthplace of American independence” — why? Because Ipswich is where the guys met to plan the First Continental Congress (“When in the course of human events” and all that). Which also makes us the oldest continuously operating event planners. To this day, there are birthday parties at the Y.

It also stands to reason that we have one of the oldest continuously operating town governments in America. This is not to suggest that our Town Meetings are never-ending. Let’s just say that they’re history in action. You sort of lose track of time. And Town Meetings are only twice a year, right? In between, we’re in the capable care of some of the oldest continuously operating selectmen in America.

Ya gotta love this town. It thrills me, as a passionate history buff, to live in the midst of such rich history. It’s a joy to walk out of my historically-plaqued antique house every school-day morning to stand with my daughter at what must be one of the oldest continuously operating bus stops in America. I should confess, we don’t stand there absolutely every morning. Some days, due to the oldest continuously operating inclement weather in America, I actually drive her to school, in one of the oldest continuously operating Chryslers in America.

But whatever; it’s still a great experience. Ipswich is one of the oldest continuously operating great experiences in America.

 

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