From 1849 through to the first quarter of the 20th century, many parts of Ipswich as well as other Suffolk towns were developed by the Society under its original name of the Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Land Society (I & SFLS).
This was part of a national movement to create what were known as 'forty shilling freeholders'; giving the ordinary man a chance to buy enough land to give him the right to vote. In the early days the Society purchased large parcels of land, laying out roads across this land and dividing it into allotments that were offered for sale to its senior members.
Later the Society branched out into house building, constructing good quality properties with an identifiable style. The Society continued to branch out in the 20th century with 10,000 members by 1924 and an asset size of £1m (worth £64m in 2016) in 1934. The Ipswich & Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society outlasted other, smaller building societies in the region, becoming the Ipswich & Suffolk Building Society in 1969 and finally merging with the Ipswich & District Building Society in 1975 to become Ipswich Building Society.