one house, five families, 200 years of history

the Choates

A New England Gentleman's House

In the 1760s, this house announced the prosperity of a family and a New England community in British North America.

Abraham Choate was about 30 years old in the mid-l 760s when he had this house built in Ipswich, Massachusetts, for his wife, Sarah, and their growing family. Incorporated in 1634, Ipswich was an old community in a region that enjoyed uncommon prosperity, thanks to commerce, farming, and fishing.

By Choate's time, a visitor to the colonies could see differences in the prosperity of families and communities by the size and style of their houses. The wealthiest people built fashionable mansions; most people continued to live in small, cramped houses. Choate's house was no mansion, but larger than most.

Painting from Moses Marcy House, about 1760

Painting from Moses Marcy House, about 1760


the parlor

Like the house itself, the Choates' paneled, plastered, and wallpapered parlor set them apart from ordinary people. Its elegant decoration and furnishings were meant to impress visitors with the Choates' wealth and social standing and to provide a backdrop for genteel activities such as tea-drinking.