Schoolhouse Rocks the Future


The reconfiguration of Ipswich elementary schools has been, and continues to be, a source of great consternation in our fair town. So I don’t want to make light of the situation. It’s serious business, and I appreciate how seriously people are taking it. I chose to live in Ipswich in large measure because of the quality of the schools, and the quality of the school-age child I was bringing here with me. I felt a strong motivation to do right by her educationally, so she would be well situated to support me in my old age.

And Ipswich has not disappointed. My daughter has thrived in the Ipswich public school system. Now on the cusp of high school, she is knowledgeable, well socialized, well rounded, and fully able to help me operate my iPhone.

As for the future, I feel confident that between the School Committee, FinCom, the Board of Selectmen, Town Meeting, and the actions of the voters at the ballot box, an acceptable and constructive school-facilities resolution will be arrived at, and our children will be well educated in years to come, as indeed they have been lo these many years.

But if indeed the Town decides to build a single new elementary school near the center of Ipswich, and make over the Winthrop school property into a long-awaited public safety facility, it seems the fate of the Doyon Memorial Elementary School property will remain up for grabs. I have a few ideas for your consideration.

My first choice would be for Doyon to be converted into a public transportation hub for the benefit of us folks out here on Planet Outer Linebrook. A train leaving from Doyon station could make stops at Marini Farm, Cumby’s/Wolf Hill at Route 1, Linebrook Church, and my house. If it keeps going west to my friend Dave’s house, even better, because then neither of us would need a designated driver.

If a train line is too expensive, I would happily settle for a trolley. Some of the fine folks in our town still remember with fondness the days when trolleys graced the streets of Ipswich, and I believe the Doyon trolley could become a cherished feature of our western landscape, even a tourist attraction: “Visit Ipswich, go back in time! Not all 380 years, just 100 or so!”

Or even a bus would be nice.

Or just a shuttle service. A couple used minivans.

Anything to end the awful isolation of life in these outer reaches, this netherworld, where people live so far west, even Ipswich old-timers don’t realize it’s actually still Ipswich out here.

However, if a Doyon transportation hub is not to the voters’ liking, the former elementary school could still serve some valuable purpose. We could turn it into the performing arts center that Old Town Hall never became. We could call it New Old Town Hall, and produce plays there, and book big music acts. I can imagine one final Simon & Garfunkel reunion in the gym. Plenty of parking.

Doyon might otherwise become a sort of Visitor Center West, where lost tourists stop in for directions to Boxford, and volunteers offer suggestions for interesting excursions to points beyond, like snorkeling at Hood Pond, or a Hollywood-style drive-by tour of the homes of current and former Ipswich selectmen.

Doyon could also house an all-volunteer emergency brigade to be mustered into service whenever somebody gets lost in Willowdale, which would have been really helpful the day I got lost in Willowdale.

Other possibilities:

  • Roller rink.
  • Rustic wedding location.
  • Medical marijuana farm.
  • Linebrook Road-kill taxidermy shop.
  • More space for EBSCO.
  • Municipal airport.
  • The Doyon Zoo?

I welcome your suggestions, via



Doug Brendel lives in what cartographers of yore sometimes referred to as the “hindmost quarters” of Ipswich, the “haunches” of Ipswich, or the “rump” of Ipswich, in any case the part of Ipswich where you can only get pizza delivery from Rowley. Follow Doug by clicking “Follow” now.



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