John Heard (1744-1834) was a prominent Ipswich resident. A merchant, he had large dealings in the West Indies and China. As well as a distillery, he owned a controlling interest in the Ipswich Mills. During the Revolution, he also owned a privateer brig, and had interests in many other privateers. The house was built by Heard in 1795 and was lived in by his descendants until its purchase in 1936 by the Ipswich Historical Society and Museum. The current headquarters of the museum, the Heard House mingles Western and Asian cultures in an atmosphere of the China trade years, featuring many colonial furnishings as well as East Asian treasures. The Ipswich Museum has an extensive collection of fine and decorative art celebrating the historical and architectural significance of Ipswich and also showcases later centuries of Ipswich history including a collection of works by the nineteenth century “Ipswich Painters”, including Society founder Arthur Wesley Dow, as well as other collections dating to the early twentieth century.