Category Archives: Historic Photographs & Images

Historic photographs and images of Newburyport, MA

Preservation is in the Business of Saving Communities

Preservation is in the business of saving communites

Preservation is in the business of saving communities

Newburyport preservation quotes:

“There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here and there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”

—Richard Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Newburyport, Demolition on High Street

182 High, courtesy of the City of Newburyport

182 High Street, courtesy of the City of Newburyport

The strange story of 182 High Street.

182 High Street has been lovingly restored by its present owner.  The property contains a beautiful 200+ year old carriage barn, which the owner wanted to restore in 2010.  The owner jumped  through many hoops, as anyone who has done such a thing knows – Zoning Board, Planning Board, Historical Commission,  and just a few feet short of the finishline, withdrew the application to continue the project.

Public record shows that the boards and commissions in the city were enthusiastic about the project.  Public records show that the Planning Board thanked the applicant and their team, noted the applicant’s sensitivity toward the historical nature of the property, the reduction of occupancy level and preservation of historical structures. (January 12, 2010).

In July of 2012, however, the owner chose to demolish the beautiful carriage barn at 182 High Street.  A one year demo delay was imposed.  Head scratching all around.

In January 2010 public record shows that the owner wanted to make every attempt to preserve and rehabilitate all the historical aspects of the carriage barn, and to ensure that it would be in keeping with the restoration that was being done on the Federal Period home.

To do what the homeowner desired from a zoning point of view, requires  something called “public benefit.”  The public benefit in 2010 was, without any question on anyone’s part, including the homeowner’s – historic preservation.

If the carriage barn at 182 High is indeed demolished and a new structure built in its place, the owner would still be required to show “public benefit,” as well as go through all the zoning and planning board hoops.  The attorney for the owner was able to say with a straight face, that the public benefit could be affordable housing.

More head scratching all around.  The stated goal in 2010 was to use the structure as a guest house for visiting family members.  Affordable housing would eliminate that possibility, and affordable housing on High Street?? like having affordable housing on Park Avenue. Happy neighbors?? one wonders.

One of the ironies here is that the significantly historical house in Newbury, the Tappan House, bought for 1.6 million dollars, was demolished for a swimming pool, but the barn was kept to be made into, yup, you got it, a guest house.

The historical write-up of the 1792 home at 182 High Street can be found on the city’s website here.

Home in Newburyport Under Pressure to be Demolished for Profit

284 Water Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

284 Water Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

“The property, built in 1810, is assessed at $810,700, according to city records. It is a Georgian-style residence with nine rooms (four bedrooms) and two fireplaces. Size of the house is 2,723 square feet, and the structure has unobstructed views of the inlet across Water Street. Several smaller buildings are also on the property…

Abutters at the commission meeting suggested that an owner could get that much or more if owners tore it down, and offered a clear lot to a buyer who might build a larger structure.

The application requests a permit for “demolition of a single-family home, garage, barn and shed…”

“Newburyport’s equivalent of the Tappan House tear-down in Newbury.” – a reference to a significant historic home in Newbury that was bought for 1.6 million dollars and demolished to build a pool (information about the former Tappan House can be read here).

The entire story in the Newburyport Daily News can be read here.

The photo of 284 Water Street is courtesy of the City of Newburyport, and the photo and historic write-up of the home can be read here.

Current photos of the property can be seen here.

And a YouTube video of 284 Water Street can be seen here.

Newburyport Under Pressure to Develop Real Estate for Profit

56 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

56 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

“Sure, we can still have homeowner’s rights and the proposed LHD provides for this. But more than ever before, the City of Newburyport is under pressure to develop real estate for profit, not just for its people and the quality of life. This city has become a destination specifically because of its historical support for preservation, not despite its history.”

Peter Erickson, Newburyport Daily News, Viewpoint can be read here

Peter Erickson is a former chair of the Newburyport Historic Commission and has lived on High Street for 24 years. Peter Erickson’s family home on High Street. Photo courtesy of the City of Newburyport which can be seen with the entire write-up about the property here (photo was taken in 1980).

Public Hearing on Newburyport’s Proposed Local Historic District (LHD) and Updated Information.

There will be a Public Hearing (this is the legally required one) on the Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD),Thursday June 21, 2012, at 7PM at the Newburyport High School Auditorium (not City Hall).

Below is the summary of the LHD Ordinance and the LHD Ordinance updates (3rd draft, now officially called the “Preliminary Report”).  Press images to enlarge.

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 1 (press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 1 (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, Page 1, Excluded Items and Reviewable Items  (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 2 (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 2 (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, Page 2, Additional Changes (Press image to enlarge)

The PDF version can be read here:  2012-public-hearing-lhd-ordinance-summary2

Or you can read the PDF version on the City of Newburyport’s website here.

Map of Newburyport's proposed Local Historic District (LHD), Press to enlarge

Map of Newburyport's proposed Local Historic District (LHD), Press to enlarge

This is the map of the proposed Newburyport Local Historic District (Press to enlarge). It can also be seen on the City’s website here.

Complete information on the updates on Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD) can be read on the City’s website here.

Newburyport, Photos of Bossy Gillis

In my hunt for photos of Newburyport, I found these photos of Bossy Gillis, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, October 1924, they are from glass negatives.  Press images to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis, mayor of Newburyport, in Salem jail, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis, mayor of Newburyport, in Salem jail, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge.

“Bossy Gillis, mayor of Newburyport, in Salem jail.” Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Bossy Gillis, Mayor of Newburyport, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge

Bossy Gillis, Mayor of Newburyport, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge

“Bossy Gillis, Mayor of Newburyport.”  Bossy Gillis at one of his gas stations.  Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Photos of one of Bossy Gillis’s gas stations that came down in 1968 can be found here.

(If you download an image would you please give The Boston Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

A New Blog in Town

There’s a new blog in town. The NRA Today (Newburyport Redevelopment Authority).

The very first entry says:

The next few months promise to be exciting time for the city. With the arrival of spring comes an opportunity to complete the renewal of the city’s waterfront, creating a space for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

As the process unfolds, we’ll post details here allowing residents to chart our progress. We’ll keep an update list of our meetings and hearings with the hope that you’ll attend and share your thoughts and hopes for the two central pieces to Newburyport’s historic water front.

If you’re unable to attend our meetings please examine the minutes to our past meetings. They’re compiled on City Hall’s web site. You’ll find a link to the minutes and our meeting agendas to the right.”

NRA land c 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press to enlarge.

NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press to enlarge.

And in the background of the new NRA blog there is a very cool photograph of downtown Newburyport, NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury (press the image to enlarge).  You can see all the buildings that existed before the demotion that took place in 1968.  If you look real closely you can see where Bossy Gillis’ gas station is still standing (see previous post), next to the firehouse.

(If you download the photograph, would you make sure to give the Historical Society of Old Newbury credit. Thank you.)

Old Photographs of Newburyport’s Garrison Inn

I found these wonderful old photographs courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, of the Garrison Inn, Brown Square, in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

The photographs were taken by Leon H. Abdalian,  October, 24, 1929, on a glass negative.

(If you download either of these images would you please give the Boston Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Newburyport, The Waterfront back in 1972

In my hunt at the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library I found these two photographs of what Newburyport’s waterfront, and Newburyport looked like in 1972 and in 1973.

NRA lots in 1972, press photo to enlarge.

NRA lots in 1972, press photo to enlarge.

Quite a mess.  And in the photo you can see the gap between the brick building and what is now the Fire House Center for the Arts, where Bossy Gillis’ gas station was demolished (see previous post).

NRA lots 1972, press photo to enlarge.

NRA lots 1972, press photo to enlarge.

Photographs courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library.

All of the Urban Renewal photographs that I took courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library can be seen here.

(If you download an image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Photos of Newburyport Urban Renewal and Bossy Gillis’ Gas Station

I thought I would put up some of the photos that I took at the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library. These are photos of Bossy Gillis’ gas station down at Market Square, and its demolition, along with some of the text and the dates – October 1968 and December 1968.

Bossy Gillis's garage, Market Square, Urban Renewal, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis' gas station, Market Square, Urban Renewal, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis's Garage, Urban Renewal, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis' gas station, Urban Renewal, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis's garage demolition, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis' gas station demolition, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

All photographs courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library. Press images to enlarge.

All of the Urban Renewal photographs that I took courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library can be seen here.

(If you download an image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Photo of Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport, MA

Wolfe Tavern, Photo of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Wolfe Tavern, photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge.

A wonderful photo of Wolfe Tavern, located where the parking lot now is at the corner of State and Harris Streets, downtown Newburyport.

The photo is courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department.  It was created on on October 24, 1929, by Leon H. Abdalian (1884-1967) It was on a glass negative that was 6.5 x 8.5 inches.

See previous post of Wolf Tavern here.

(If you download the image would you please give credit to the Boston Public Library and The Newburyport Blog. Thank you.)

Letter to the Editor on Newburyport’s LHD

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

There is a wonderful Letter to the Editor in today’s Newburyport Daily news about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD) by L.M. Klee.

“This is not about “I win, you lose” or “I’m right and you’re wrong”; it is about a win for Newburyport’s stature in the annals of American architecture and history. The bones of this city were here long before we were. Most of the residents are not related to the founders, the ship builders and early farmers, but in some way, we are here today because of them. To have lived here for two years or several generations and ignore Newburyport’s historical prominence architecturally seems disrespectful. We are fortunate to be a part of that history and need to consider our roles in protecting that seriously. We can collectively shape the city’s future and allow future generations to experience a sense of its history long after our presence is felt on these streets. The responsibility for that today is only ours.”

To read the entire letter press here.

And to see the list of all 49 Letters to the Editor in the Newburyport Daily News, and their links, written in favor of Newburyport’s proposed LHD press here.

J.P. Marquand, Newburyport and the Local Historic District (LHD)

J.P Marquand, Courtesy of Boston Public Library Print Department, press to enlarge

J.P Marquand, Courtesy of Boston Public Library Print Department, press to enlarge

On Monday night’s Local Historic District (LHD) informational meeting on March 26, 2012, the questions that were asked, for the most part, were intended to learn more about Newburyport’s proposed LHD.  The people asking questions included folks who were “on the fence” or openly against the LHD. The tone was respectful, with about 4 exceptions. And I thought the meeting was very informative.

The qualifications and the “integrity” of the people on LHD Study Committee itself were questioned  (not so courteous).

A “gentleman” (it reminded me of the online commentators in the Newburyport Daily News) basically accused the Newburyport LHD Study Committee of being “carpetbaggers.”

One of the things that the person might not have been aware of, is that one of the Study Committee members, their grandfather was J.P. Marquand.  Not bad to have someone with that kind of “institutional memory” on the LHD Study Committee. The purpose of the LHD being to protect and preserve the distinctive historical characteristics in the proposed Local Historic District.

Chimneys are New England, Newburyport Iconic

It has been suggested by some of the anti-LHD group that for a homeowner to be required to maintain/keep their chimney or chimneys in the proposed LHD is basically un-American.

Oh good grief!

Chimneys in New England and Newburyport are iconic.  Much the way New England church steeples are iconic.

They are a fundamental, intrinsic, deep-rooted symbol of what it means to live in an historic New England home.  Of what it means to live in a historic Newburyport, Massachusetts home.

And really and truly I think that most of those who oppose the proposed Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) would agree.

I’ve included some examples of “iconic” homes with chimneys in Newburyport (all courtesy of the City of Newburyport, MA).

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

Historic Newburyport Home

Local Historic District (LHD) Public Meeting, March 19, 2012

The video of the Local Historic District (LHD) public informational meeting on March 19, 2012, is actual better than being in the meeting itself.  The the speakers as well questions and answers are much easier to understand.  There is a lot of good information on the video about the proposed LHD.  It is well worth watching.

Local Historic District Public Meeting, March 19, 2012, press to start video

Local Historic District Public Meeting, March 19, 2012, press to start video

The March 19, 2012 Local Historic District (LHD) informational public meeting at Newburyport City Hall.

1 Little’s Lane Being Demolished

Tappan House being demolished

The Tappan House being demolished

The Tappan House, 1 Little’s Lane, Newbury, being demolished today, right now.

This is what can happen anywhere in Newburyport without a Local Historic District (LHD).  By law zoning cannot stop it.  A demo delay just delays the destruction for a year.
1 Little's Lane being demolished

1 Little's Lane being demolished, Courtesy of Skip and Marge Motes

Destruction of The Tappan House, 1 Little's lane

Destruction of The Tappan House, 1 Little's Lane, Courtesy of Skip and Marge Motes

The Tappan House being destroyed, March 20, 2012.

The Tappan House, Courtesy of P.Preservationist

The Tappan House, Courtesy of P.Preservationist

The Tappan House, 1 Little’s Lane before demolition.

Newburyport, the Way a Fence Looks Matters

A fence on High Street is like a jewelry on a beautiful woman.

A fence on High Street, Sally Chandler © 2004, Courtesy of "Historic Gardens of Newburyport"

A fence on High Street, Sally Chandler © 2004, Courtesy of "Historic Gardens of Newburyport"

Last night at the Local Historic District (LHD) informational meeting, a person who owns a gorgeous mansion on High Street in the South End, up on the Ridge, one of the most important homes on High Street, asked if they would have to go in front of the LHD Commission (if the proposed LHD is passed) to put in a privacy fence, as I heard it, to protect their children.

To put a privacy fence in front of this particular mansion, or any mansion on High Street–“No.”  That should have been the answer.

If they would like to put a privacy fence in the back of their property for their children to play in, of course (and that would not come under the proposed Local Historic District (LHD) guidelines).

The way a fence looks in the proposed LHD (High Street and downtown Newburyport from Winter to Federal Street) matters.  It matters a lot.

A fence on High Street is like a jewelry on a beautiful woman.

How a fence looks makes a big difference.  And it made me wonder, I don’t know if my wondering is true or not, if this wasn’t a “got-cha” question.  Because the answer is so obvious, that the panel and the LHD Study Committee was a little confused as how to answer it.