Friday, August 28, 2009

Alexander Knight House Team Collaborates with Plimoth Plantation Artisans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Lisa-Marie Cashman

Alexander Knight House Team Collaborates with Plimoth Plantation Artisans
North Meets South to Gain Insight and Guidance on the Re-Creation of First Period Building

Ipswich, Massachusetts. August 28, 2009 – With the foundation dug and the stonework in place for the root cellar, the Alexander Knight House (“AKH”) team furthered its substantial research to validate and authenticate the craftsmen techniques being used to build the Knight House by meeting with the Interpretive Artisans from Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Plimoth Plantation is a re-creation of the 1627 English Village and a daily live history exhibit that depicts the people, dialect, places and activities of 17th Century Plymouth.

The core group of artisans – specially trained in the First Period building trades - was on hand to greet our North Shore contingency. A robust discussion between the groups ignited an exciting exchange of knowledge and information that continued throughout the day. Features of the early Plimoth houses were compared and contrasted with the Knight House along with much discussion about framing techniques, chimney construction and hearth placement, roofing options as well as the best mortar materials for parging. The takeaway for both sides was a learning opportunity of enormous value. Future plans to host the Plimoth artisans assisting in the roofing for the Alexander Knight House will soon take place.

“Based on this tremendous exchange, we now know the framing plan must include a chimney girt and summer beam along with the roof frame being that of principal and common rafters,” notes Susan S. Nelson, architectural historian and member of the AKH team.

Further discussions and decisions will be made concerning mortar mixtures and roofing materials based on the outcome of the meeting at Plimoth Plantation. Plans to mill white oak for the framing are underway as well. Details of the continuing collaboration when North meets up with South in the coming months here in Ipswich will be online at

Construction will continue to take place throughout this year and into next. Visitors can continue view and partake in some of the building activities this Saturday, September 5th from 11 a.m. -3 p.m during the next 17th Century Saturday events. For more information on live building exhibit dates log-on to To become a supporter for this live on-going exhibit, log-on to: All contributions will go towards continuing education programs and sustaining maintenance so all can enjoy for years to come.

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Alexander Knight House – Collaboration with Plimoth Plantation
Page Two/ August 25, 2009

About the Ipswich Knight House Team
The Ipswich Knight House team represents some of the finest craftsmen, award winning designers, Emmy-award winning producers, writers, branding and graphic artists, photographers and a noted folk artist. All time, labor and materials are generously donated (approximately $50,000) to make this re-creation a local and national treasure for years to come. For more information, please contact Lisa-Marie Cashman at 978-233-2885 or email at

About the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum
Organized in 1890 and chartered in 1898 by Reverend Thomas Franklin Waters and joined by preservationist George Francis Dow, the gentleman’s society housed and collected many First and Second Period Ipswich historic artifacts, famous paintings (including Arthur Wesley Dow) and documents—quite notably the largest collection in the country. Today these treasures showcasing Ipswich’s rich and diverse history can be viewed at both the Heard and Whipple houses in South Green District. For more information contact Wendy Evans at or call at 978-356-2811.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ipswich Alexander Knight House: Groundbreaking Ceremonies this Saturday 10 a.m.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Lisa-Marie Cashman

Groundbreaking Ceremonies for the Alexander Knight House on Whipple House Green July 25th
An authentic re-creation of a First Period Timber Frame House

Ipswich, Massachusetts. July 23, 2009 –Groundbreaking ceremonies on Saturday, July 25th at 10:00 a.m. on the Whipple House Green will set the stage for a momentous re-creation of the first authentic, live, on-going exhibit of a First Period Timber Frame House in the South Green District of Ipswich.

The re-creation of the Alexander Knight House is the brainchild of a team of professionals practicing the art of recreating American Colonial historic structures in conjunction with the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum. These five published, award-winning and peer-reviewed professionals will collaborate to re-create the story and building of the Alexander Knight House. Together with a blended team of award-winning writers, journalists, broadcast producers, graphic artists, a renown folk artist and a photographer with over 50 years cumulative experience. A year in concept, now this project emerges from the meeting room huddles and design plans to spring into action.

The core team includes: Mat Cummings, Cummings Architects; James D. Whidden, Woodright, LLC; Richard Irons, Restoration Masons; Sue Nelson, Architectural Historian; and Tim Chouinard, landscape specialist.

“If originally built as planned, the house would have been a modest 16x12 single-story building, possibly with only one room and probably with a loft space for storage,” notes Mat Cummings.

Construction will take place throughout the year and into next. Visitors can partake in some of the building activities during Olde Ipswich Days July 24-26 and during 17th Century Saturdays. Plans for lectures and a photo journalistic gallery showing are underway. Once completed, the Alexander Knight House will be donated by the team to the Ipswich Historical Society and reside as a permanent structure to be used for furthering the education of how early settlers may have lived and built their homes.

“Some examples of live demonstrations may include open hearth cooking and re-creating First Period furniture and children’s toys,” says James D. Whidden, a master joiner for over 20 years.

Members of the board of directors and the executive director will have a direct link on the Ipswich Historical Society website ( ) to the project website ( ) as well as the blog where team will blog about the progress of the project ( ). Johanne Cassia, renowned folk artist, ( generously donated her time and talent to portraying the Alexander Knight House in an original rendering which exemplifies incredible detail of the thatched roof and clamshell walkways and mortar on the chimney.

“We are excited and pleased to work with the Ipswich Knight House team, says Fred Hale, executive director of the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum. “Our goal is to expand upon the opportunities for our community and visitors to learn as much about the largest collection of First Period artifacts, artwork, and buildings in Ipswich. This is a natural extension of our collection since there were once many homes on the Meeting House Green where a thriving community of prosperous settlers made Ipswich famous.”

About the Ipswich Knight House Team
The Ipswich Knight House team represents some of the finest craftsmen, award winning designers, Emmy-award winning producers, writers, branding and graphic artists, photographers and a noted folk artist. All time, labor and materials are generously donated (approximately $50,000) to make this re-creation a local and national treasure for years to come. For more information, please contact Lisa-Marie Cashman at 978-233-2885 or email at

- more -

Alexander Knight House – Groundbreaking Ceremony
Page Two/ July 23, 2009

To become a supporter for this live on-going exhibit, log-on to: All contributions will go towards continuing education programs and sustaining maintenance so all can enjoy for years to come.

About the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum
Organized in 1890 and chartered in 1898 by Reverend Thomas Franklin Waters and joined by preservationist George Francis Dow, the gentleman’s society housed and collected many First and Second Period Ipswich historic artifacts, famous paintings (including Arthur Wesley Dow) and documents—quite notably the largest collection in the country. Today these treasures showcasing Ipswich’s rich and diverse history can be viewed at both the Heard and Whipple houses in South Green District. For more information contact Wendy Evans at or call at 978-356-2811.

# # #

Monday, July 13, 2009

The George B. Brown House is seeking its new owner

In the dawn, it towers above the rest of the roof tops in its majestic and magical way. Dew gently wraps itself around the wood finials spiring to the heavens. At dusk, one can see the various shadows dancing on the gables and in the peaks and valleys of the slate hip roof. Living in-town down the street from the George B. Brown House (circa 1898) gives one pause and standing in awe, I sometimes wonder what it might have been like during Ipswich's industrial hey day visiting or dining with the Brown's in one of only two of our Town's most majestic ladies.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Brief History of Alexander Knight

Sue Nelson and I put together from Town records and other historical data a brief accounting of the life and significance of one our earliest settlers to the Ipswich colony:

The story of Alexander Knight’s rise and fall in Ipswich, Massachusetts is truly intriguing and significant in the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s history. Knight, thought to be a prosperous innkeeper from Chelmsford, England, probably immigrated to Boston in the Defence with wife Anne (Hannah) Tuttie, daughter of William Tuttie of London. He was one of Ipswich’s first settlers, residing in Town by February of 1635. Knight received multiple grants of land comprising significant acreage and had his first home close to the meetinghouse on Meeting House Green near many of Ipswich’s most prominent residents.

In 1648, however, Knight experienced a rapid decline in his fortunes. While there is some mystery surrounding the incident, we know that Knight’s infant son Nathaniel burned to death when his clothes caught on fire. The Essex County Quarterly Courts Fined Knight heavily in March of 1654 for “carelessness in not preventing fire after warning.” It is possible that Knight himself was injured in the fire and probable that his house was lost.

By January 1656 Aron Pengry, who had been paid for boarding Knight and his family for an undetermined length of time, asked the Town to end the arrangement. Ipswich Selectmen gave Knight notice to quit Pengry’s house by May 1st(1657). Alexander struggled to find a way to support his family, leasing his land to Thomas Rowell and Robert Collins in February 1656, in exchange for firewood and clay for his chimney. However, this exchange was apparently not sufficient to support the Knight family. At the April Town Meeting of 1657, an intense discussion ensued about how to help Knight. After proposing another boarding situation for the family, the Town, in an extraordinary move, voted that “whereas Alexander Knight…is altogether destitute, his wife alsoe neare her tyme” .

The significance of this record is two-fold. Firstly, it was an unprecedented move for a Town to provide a dwelling house for a pauper.

Secondly, this unique Town Record gives us a glimpse of what the ordinary houses of the first half of the seventeenth century must have been like.

If originally built as planned, the house would have been a modest 16 x 12 single-story building, possibly with only one room and probably with a loft space for storage. Its chimney, based on the contract with Rowell and Collins, was probably of wattle-and-daub and not of brick, since Knight planned on needing two loads of clay a year to re-parge it. Town deeds suggest that the new house was built in Lord Square, rather than on Meetinghouse Green.

With the exception of his new home, Knight’s death records in 1664 indicate a man with few possessions. Most of his estate comprised the land grants made to him when he arrived in Ipswich, flush with youth and opportunity.

Here begins our team’s and the Ipswich Historical Society’s re-creation of the Knight House. Join us as we retrace how ordinary settlers, including Alexander Knight, may have built their homes during the nascent days of one of our nation’s first colonies.

Ipswich Knight House groundbreaking ceremony July 25, 2009

Check out: for more information on the project.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Ipswich Knight House team continued...

Richard Irons, master historical restoration mason in the head of the chimney at the Daniel Lummus House, High Street, Ipswich, Ma.

Ipswich Alexander Knight House team members

Mat Cummings, Cummings Architects and James Whidden Woodright LLC in front of the Whipple House, Ipswich, Ma.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ipswich Alexander Knight House Authentic Reproduction Underway.

As the skies cleared late Saturday morning, I headed out to view the hewing of beams that will soon become part of the authentic reproduction of the first period one-room house: the Ipswich Alexander Knight House, circa 1657. To my pleasant surprise, the crew was involving the public in the actual work.

The project is the ingenious brainchild of a group of modern-day first and second period artisans who will lend their expertise, time and materials (estimated at about $45,000 from start to finish), to recreating this replica. The Ipswich Alexander Knight House will stand as a commemorative and lasting tribute to the historical significance of the Town of Ipswich, Massachusetts now celebrating its 375th year.

The group includes: Mat Cummings, Cummings Architects (; James Whidden, Woodright, LLC (; Richard Irons, Restoration Mason; Susan S. Nelson, Architectural historian and principal of Goodship Research; Tim Chouinard, Arborist. In addition, marketing and communications consultants including Lisa-Marie Cashman, principal of The Cashman Group (; Martin Sorga, principal of postproduct ( Cynda Warren Joyce, principal of CWJ Designs ( will not only help recreate the story of the past, but also will bring light to the significance of this project for the local community and nationwide, as part of the donation.

"The Ipswich Alexander Knight House recreation represents what many of the Town's First Period homes looked like during the early 17th century," remarks Mat Cummings. "It is the first authentic and only recreation in the Ipswich's history that will have a permanent home located next to the Whipple House and sited by Sally's Pond on the South Green." Cummings further adds, "According to our knowledge, our one-room home will be the only opportunity for one to see and experience how the common person lived in one of Mass Bay Colonies' settlements."
James Whidden adds, "Many of the First Period homes in Ipswich were only one room. As we entered the Second Period, many add-ons were incorporated into the historic homes--particularly downtown-- and the original one room house became part of a larger home existing with Georgian or Federal style embellishments."
Once completed, Ipswich Knight House will be donated to the Ipswich Historical Society ( and remain as part of its permanent collection. The Society hopes to incorporate the authentic one-room, First Period house into its educational programming including lectures, school tours, and other events. It will become an interactive tool for all to enjoy. All proceeds for such events will go to the Ipswich Historical Society.

"We are thrilled to have such dedicated and talented members of the Ipswich Historical Society and community," notes Fred Hale, President. "The dedication and passion these individuals have brought to the table will undoubtedly boost local and national recognition for Ipswich as the town that has the largest and most authentic number of First and Second Period homes in the country."

With the 375th celebration now moving full-speed ahead, this summer promises to be a great time for residents, families and tourists to view and participate in the progress of the Ipswich Knight House. Live demonstrations will take place and tourists and residents will have a chance to partake in helping to build this home. For more information on demonstration dates and other activities, please contact Lisa-Marie Cashman at 978-233-2885 or email at Stay tuned for additional blog postings on the progress as well as my "tweetdates" at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Correction to last post

This is a correction to the last post The Art of Selling Houses in Today's Market. The website address should be:

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Art of Selling Houses in Today's Market

A fairly brisk spring market has arrived on the heels of attractive mortgage interest rates hovering between 4.6-4.99 percent in recent weeks. Along with the usual signs of Spring, open house signs abound with colorful balloons .

I recently covered an open house for a Realtor-friend who was selling her own home and I was successful in bringing the buyers to the table with a good offer. What made this home more appealing than the house on the street parallel to hers? Both homes were in the same neighborhood with all the amenities; both were priced competitively; both had similiar lot size, number of rooms and were the same style what gave?

The staging. Hands down. The staged home had a flow and continuity that reached out and grabbed the guest saying, "come sit down and read a book in my living room." "Entertain in my open-space concept kitchen and family great room." "Come relax, take your shoes off and lay on my luxuriously designed masterbed...." Believe it or not some people did just that!

It made me step back and think a bit about how many other homes have sold with professional staging? So, I contacted Jeanne Monaco, A.S.P., IASHP, president and owner of Staged to Perfection, LLC ( to find out her advice on hiring the right person or company to get the job done.

Jeanne has been in the home design business for many years. As an accredited staging professional, she recommends the sellers and their real estate agent ask the following questions when selecting a professional staging consultant:

  • Is the consultant designated as an ASP (Accredited Staging Professional) and is he/she a member or the IAHSP (International Association of Home Staging Professionals)?

This guarantees the potential client that the stager has invested both time and financial backing to their business

  • Has the stager been trained by the founder and creator of

  • Does the staging professional meet the highest of standards and code of ethics for the industry?

Anyone can call themselves a stager but there is ONLY one recognized designation in the industry. An ASP has earned the federal trade mark for the industry.

  • Does the stager have references? Ask for both realtors and homeowners.

  • Does the stager have a full inventory available for props, small furniture etc. to stage your property at resonable rates? Are they readily available?

  • Ask to see his/her portfolio and or website.

  • Ask the stager for statistics that show you how quickly his/her staged properties went under agreement (The ROI is what is going to count the most).

Jeanne believes hiring an ASP allows you to access several discounts through Staged Homes partners i.e. paint, furniture, artwork, storage, etc. In addition, an ASP gets you extra exposure by listing your property on website coupled with your realtor's stash of marketing tools including the MLS,, SEOs and other interenet methods of marketing coupled with traditional outbound marketing.

Below is a sampling of statistics from Staged to Perfection's cache. For more information about Jeanne Monaco and her offerings, log on to For more information about selling your home in the current market, contact me at

Boxford- 10 days to offers 6 weeks to closing
Ipswich-1 day for multiple offers 10 days for purchase and sale
Danvers- 17 days to purchase and sale
Swampscott- 4 days to first offer (fell through at inspection) closed with a new offer 3 months later
Somerville- 8 days first offer (fell through buyer got cold feet) back up buyer two days later, closing after 4 weeks
Hamilton- 11 days to purchase and sale
Wenham- 60 days to purchase and sale
Middleton- 14 days to first offer...56 days until second offer and purchase and sale
Somerville #2- Closed after 90 days
Peabody- 2 offers after 2 days...under agreement after 3
Haverhill-Offer after 1 day

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rates and the Markets Drop Amid Concerns over AIG fiasco and looming deficit bulge....

It must have been one heck of a finish today on Wall Street and on Capitol Hill. I would like to be downtown or along the K and M Sts, N.W. corridor sharing a pint with some of the folks who are in the thick of it all.

Just a bit of a recap:

This week, the Fed meeting announced that Federal funding rates would remain constant between 0.00 - 0.25 percent -- unchanged since the last Fed meeting while stocks closed down to finish the week in the doldrums. You'd think this would be good news, but with any law of supply and demand, there is an upside and a downside that has caused a chain reaction of multitudinous proportions. The markets had a roller coaster ride once again this week; heavily relying upon confidence-shattering reports from the Hill to corporate America to Kalamazoo and other parts unknown.

Some key factors influencing the market include anger and rage over the AIG compensation packages to executives while further reports in the New York Times and other major national dailies conclude the nation's deficit budget will reach up to $2.3 trillion more between 2010 and 2019. Pretty staggering. But wait, don't dwell on the negative....

Hang on to your hats folks because there is a silver lining in every cloud.

According to Patricia Gabriel (, senior loan officer with Prospect Mortgage (, the unchanged Federal Fund rate means great news for home buyers -- and even sellers get a piece of the action. Here are some key points shared by Patty:

LMC: What happened at the Fed meeting the other day? Can you give some detail?

Patty: "WELL, THE FED DELIVERED A DOUBLE WHAMMY. They said they'd buy an additional $750 billion on Mortgage Backed Securities and do it for the rest of the year. That more than doubles their original commitment. But they didn't leave it there. They also decided to commit to purchasing $300 billion in longer term Treasuries over the next 6 months. This double whammy gave the 10 year treasury the largest 1 day decline in yield in over 50 years. Mortgage Backed Securities dropped significantly in yield as well. This is GREAT NEWS for mortgage rates. "

LMC: We saw a trending downward in January, Patty. But as you have noted in previous discussions, lower rates only lasted for 3 days. What conclusions should we draw from this recent drop in rates to 4.75% for a 30-fixed with a credit score of 740 and higher?

Patty: "Just because they'll be buying through the end of the year doesn't mean rates will continue to drop. We have great rates now. They are better than they've been in decades. Take advantage while they're low. Don't get greedy waiting for them to drop another 1/8%."

LMC: Any other advice for buyers and sellers?

Patty: "Yes. If you are looking to buy or sell, make sure you are timing your future closings. Ask your real estate agent and your closing attorney as well as your lender to make sure they are watching out for this in order to lock-in and take advantage of this rate. This also applies to those looking to refinance. Focus on lenders you know and trust and work with dates that are realistic. "

Where can I park my Prius?

Back to compactness...parallel parking queen lives!

A a great bluetooth and media system while conserving energy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's a buyer's market alright, but where are they hiding?

The other day I was plodding along filling out an application to become a listing agent for Fannie Mae's REO market. I was asked for total sales volume and units for 2008. So, I pulled up the latest statistics from our market center and was pleasantly surprised to learn upon researching reports that our Keller Williams office did $168,092,064 in total sales volume with 496 units sold in 2008. This places us at the #1 position in our target market from the previous 4th position. I sat back, smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. The sky was not falling today as the media so forcefully implies in daily broadcasts. I can still afford San Pellegrino in a glass bottle and so life moves on.

New England has pretty much bottomed out in the market correction, and yet the North Shore of Massachusetts seems relatively unaffected. MLS market reports show sold statistics somewhere between 2003-2005 values, which is not all that bad. So why are there still a plethora of inventory on the market? Why are the majority of buyers cooling their heels still?

Here are the top 5 reasons:

- Lack of consumer confidence. If you are living in fear that the sky will fall, then write your epitaph now. The best buys are out there NOW. Don't miss out. Invest in America. This will stimulate the economy more than waiting under the proverbial bomb shelter or for handouts that may not apply or may never get to you.

-Myth or urban legend? Shut your televisions off folks...there are plenty of lenders who are lending money. True, the lending qualifications are a bit stiffer...but it's a good thing. No one will be buying something they cannot afford. Rates remain the lowest in nearly three decades. It's time to put more than your big toe in the pond. Go ahead, jump in and get might like what you find out!

- Can we get further clarity on the stimulus package? I hear this from many colleagues and clients. There were a few last minute changes to the tax credit for purchasing a home. At last glance, first time home buyers will really make out well. If you are a first-time home buyer and you purchase your home between January 1, 2009 and by November 30, 2009, you will receive a tax credit (this is not something you will have to pay back to the IRS like last year's provision). The key here is to understand how the tax credit works. Please check with your local Enrolled Agent (licensed tax specialist). For most people, the tax credit for up to $8,000.00 depending upon purchase price and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is a no-brainer. It's all relative though...and it's great to receive something rather than nothing at all.

Janet Foote, EA and owner of AnyThingTaxingYou, LLC ( states,"One key consideration to remember is that you must live in your new home and it must remain your main home for a 36 month period beginning on the purchase date.” Foote adds, “With a few exceptions, not doing so can mean you repay the credit, as additional tax due, in the year the home becomes a rental property, business property or is sold, destroyed or condemned.”

-Job security. Gone are the days where you can get 100% financing on a no-doc loan. Indeed these are challenging times. But everyone needs a place to live. Your decision to purchase should take into account the following factors: 1.) get a financial health check up with your financial planner and/or speak to a mortgage representative to determine pre-approval for a loan. 2.) Make sure you have considered where your budget needs to be and error on the side of conservative in terms of price range. There are plenty of deals out there where more is for less than in the previous market.

-The golden egg has left the nest. Remember when you were hearing how people were flipping houses about three years ago and making a killing? Or your parents or someone you knew bought their homes for pennies and ended up millionaires by selling their homes? Well, those days are gone in terms of buying a home and selling 6 months later to turn a profit. The one positive thing about buying now is that you can invest your money in real estate and make it can only go up from here. The normal rate of return will come into play...on average we are talking about an estimated 7-11 year turnaround for appreciation to reach levels where substantive equity is gained. And once this happens, only draw from equity to enhance the property and add VALUE. No more trips to Ireland on a whim and purchasing expensive luxury SUVs, please.

The buyers are around; they just need the tools, timing and education to make it happen!

For more information on President Obama's Economic Stimulus Package, check out the National Association of Realtors latest news on there website: ( or talk to a Realtor.

Monday, February 02, 2009

More than the ambiance....

As I search for a new antique homes project for a very savvy buyer client of mine, I got a tip that yet another first period home in Ipswich might be up for grabs. I am setting up an appointment with the owners to preview the home this week hopefully.

I believe that this home is the 30-31st discovered first period home in town. Looking forward to learning more when I speak with the owners.

Daniel Lummus House updates

Proud new owners of the last gem on High Street in ipswich, Massachusetss, Kathy and Al Boynton, are chipping away at restoring the Daniel Lummus House, circa 1730 or earlier.