The Choates: 1757–1772

In the mid-1760s Abraham Choate, an up-and-coming gentleman, had this house built for himself, his wife Sarah, and their growing family. Choate and other prosperous colonists joined a wave of house building as the Ipswich region became an important center of trade within the British empire. The size and style of the house—with six heated rooms, many large windows, and fine finishes—was an outward sign of Choate’s rising status and a community’s prosperity.

Look Around!

How did the Choates display their social standing? This room is full of clues.

The fine finishes in the Choate’s parlor—the wood paneling, plastered ceiling, and imported wallpaper—announced the family’s wealth and knowledge of transatlantic style and created an impressive setting for entertaining guests. Few families in the 1760s could afford such luxury. Most people lived in houses with only a few modest rooms for working, cooking, and sleeping.

The table in the center of the room is set for tea. Like others of their standing in colonial Massachusetts and throughout the British Empire, Abraham and Sarah Choate would have practiced newly fashionable rituals such as tea drinking—rituals that required not only expensive imported goods like porcelain teapots from China, but also a knowledge of transatlantic social customs.

To continue your tour, move along the front of the house to the doorway.