George is Grinning and Orren Fox


George is grinning, huge wide smile, and those of you who have been readers of the Newburyport Blog for any length of time know that George is usually a glum sort of fellow, even with his passionate romance to Georgiana Tadpole (if you really would like to know about any of this frog stuff please press here).

Instead of telling the readers of the Newburyport Blog what is making George smile so hugely right off the bat (although he’s not smiling in the picture, I couldn’t get one of him smiling), I’m going to start at the beginning.

Way, way back (“in the day,” I’m not sure if it’s that far back) in 1990 I painted a whole bunch of paintings for a major New York show, oil on panel, and the panels warped (I used the wrong kind of panel – never did it again).  Panic city, you betcha.  I went to what was then Wendover Woodworks on Liberty Street in Newburyport, and one of the owners, Andy Willemsem saved my sorry soul by making some absolutely gorgeous frames that solved the warping problem and saved yours truly.  It was then I met Andy’s partner in this wonder furniture creating place, Henry Fox.

About 15 years ago, wandering around my Newburyport neighborhood, I ran into Henry Fox, who told me the harrowing tale of his son, born 3 months early with a host of medical problems who had been saved by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MassGeneral in Boston, and had just been moved to one of the more local hospitals.  I later shared this story with other families who had critically ill new borns, including my most wonderful neighbors, who found themselves and their newborn son also at MassGeneral. (The young man is now happily running around our neighborhood.)

Andy Willemsen moved on and Henry Fox named his wonderful furniture business after his two sons, “Fox Brothers.” (Still there on Liberty Street in Newburyport, still amazing.)

Fast forward to 2012, yesterday, a “new” or “new” to me, George and I being 5 years late to the story (not quite as bad as my late arrival to the David Sedaris planet, see earlier post, but not so good)  local Newburyport blog called “Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs,” by a fifteen year old young man called Orren Fox.

I’m thinking Fox?? Fox?? Henry Fox?? The timing’s right.

And sure enough this blog is written by Henry’s son Orren, the one in intensive care 15 years ago.  How cool is that, but it gets so much better.

Scrolling down the blog’s sidebar the young man has been interviewed/written up by the Huffington Post, NPR, Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe to name a few, and has been to the White House, March 7, 2012,  for “Know Your Farmer Event.”

I’m beginning to join George in grinning from ear to ear about this young chicken farmer and organic food activist.

“Margaret Mead would have loved Orren.  A soulful and gifted young man who has done more to help make a positive impact by 15 than most folks do in a lifetime.” From Do Lectures.

And Orren has added bees, in “Bee Happy” – check it out here.

AND Orren has serendipitly gone into business with his brother Will (with a little help from Dad) making “FoxBoys” longboards, skateboards in the most glorious shape, a little like a boat, read and see all about them here.

And Orren Fox is so media savvy as to make grown “social media” folks weep – along with the Happy Chickens blog there are the Facebook pages that one actually enjoys looking at and reading, and twitter accounts.  But it may be in the blood because his Mom, who gave birth to him all those many 15 years ago, is Libby Delana, the founding partner of Newburyport’s Mechanica, the next generation branding firm.

So if you are discouraged by the news or local or federal politics, life in general, go investigate Orren Fox, a young man who transcends the sustainable movement.  It doesn’t matter if you are dark “green,” light “green,” in-between or orange; right wing, left wing, moderate or independent.  When you read about this fantastic story, you like George, will be grinning from ear to ear and doing a dance in the end zone of your choice.

Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) as a Musical

I’m liking this whole Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) mess as a musical (see previous post).

It could open with a Tom Salemi, one of Newburyport’s esteemed bloggers, character singing a solo, “Keep it Classy” (based on Tom’s great essay, “Take the Bagels, Leave the Petition,”on Newburyport’s LHD in Newburyport Today).

The stage is dark except for Tom’s character,  and then in the background, lights come up come slowly, we have two ladies in front of an establishment handing out fliers.  Their musical number is called “Fines, Fines, the LHD will Bankrupt You.”

And huddled at the front of the stage are preservationists (Newburyport preservationists tend in general to be meek and mild, “fierce” is not an adjective I would give to most Newburyport preservationist. “Fierce” goes good with some of the the anti-LHD folks, but not most preservationists, so that’s why they are huddling).  Lights come up slowly on them, and their musical number is, “It’s not True, It’s not True, It’s a Lie.” (Clearly this will be an ensemble piece.)

So Tom’s character is singing “Keep it Classy,”  while the two anti LHD women are singing “The LHD will Bankrupt You”, and the Newburyport preservationist are singing “It’s not True, It’s a Lie.”  And then everyone freezes, you know the way they do on stage.

Mark Twain
Mark Twain

And what I’m picturing here is having someone dressed as Mark Twain, maybe with a sign hanging across their chest so the audience will get it, walks on stage, spot light on him, everyone else is dimmed out.  Doesn’t sing, just looks at the audience and says, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

The Mark Twain character walks off, and the Tom Salemi character sings one last  line of “Keep it Classy?” with a question mark in his voice, and then the lights fade out on all the characters. (Irony here, how elitist!!)

First possible scene of the new possible Broadway hit, “LHD-Bombshell,” (still a working title-the “Smash” thing again, see previous post).

Tom Salemi’s Latest Posts

I like the last two posts over at Tom Salemi’s Newburyport Posts.

The first one  “Give it Time,” on Jared Eigerman’s immensely sane Letter to the Editor in the Newburyport Daily News.

“Our hope is that the councilors can cut through the noise and emotion and debate the pros and cons of the LHD concept rationally.”

And Tom’s second one today, “Wasn’t them” the decisive response in today’s Newburyport Daily News to what Tom labels “one of the oddest letters of the LHD debate,” which, as he points out, got 10 comments, and Tom wonders:

“Ah, the end of Anontyranny. Anonymousity?

Still working on it….”

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.)

Content Syndication and SEO at The Newburyport Blog

George looks at me and says, “Dahling…”

“Dahling” George? “Dahling?” First it was “Oy Vey,” and now it’s “Dahling.”

The frogs pow-wow around my computer.
The frogs pow-wow around my computer.

The “Oy Veh” thing was suspect enough for me and the readers of the Newburyport Blog that your wonderful Newburyport “pedigree,”  George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall, might be suspect.  But what in the world has the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog been watching? (And, really, do buttoned up old Yankees [not many buttoned up old Yankees around these days, at least they seem to be dwindling here in Newburyport], say “Dahling,” I don’t think so.)

George and the twins pow-wow around my computer.  They point out to me that another site  is getting a whole lot of credit for stuff that I write on my blog, even images, good grief.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the Newburyport Blog going out the window.

George rolls his eyes at me and continues, “Dahling, how could you have known? Stop beating yourself up.”

(George has obviously been watching some sort of combination of Dr. Phil and Bubbles Devere [aka Matt lucas], good grief!)

George, I’m not “beating myself up,” so get a grip. These folks could not have been nicer.  They wanted to promote the Newburyport Blog, and put at least, count’m, 5 links back to the blog on every post they syndicated!  Who could ask for more than that!!

But what do do.  With some sadness, I get in touch with these kind folks, and ask them if they would take all the content down that is from the Newburyport Blog. Sigh. And maybe Google will sort it all out in a week or so, and Google would realize that, moi and the Newburyport Blog writes this stuff.

The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog
The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog

“You could have done your homework, you know.” Say the Twins (aspiring political consultants to the Newburyport Blog).

“Say what?”  I say, and am in a little bit of a huff. Twerpy little frogs!!

But they are right. And this is from Google itself (which I had never seen before).

“Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”

Who knew. I would feel weird asking someone not to index (i.e. having their stuff show up on Google etc.) stuff on their sight, even if it was my stuff. And from a technical point of view, it could be mighty hard, especially if folks would be using a blogging software like WordPress.

So Google puts one in one weird dilemma.

Newburyport Postcards of Wolfe Tavern

State Street, Wolfe Tavern in the foreground and the YMCA below. Press image to enlarge.
State Street, Wolfe Tavern in the foreground and the YMCA below. Press image to enlarge.

In chit-chatting on The Newburyport Blog about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), the subject of buildings that used to exist in downtown Newburyport comes up.

One of the literally gaping holes in downtown Newburyport, is the parking lot on the corner of Harris and State Streets where the Wolfe Tavern once existed.

And I wasn’t sure when the Wolfe Tavern was demolished, but in doing some research it was demolished by its owner in the fall of 1953. Real late.  Wow, I thought it was much earlier.

Postcard of the Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport, MA.  Press to enlarge.
Postcard of the Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport, MA. Press to enlarge.

Wolfe Tavern, at the corner of State Street and Thread Needle Alley was destroyed, like so much of downtown Newburyport in the great fire of 1811.  And shortly after, the tavern was reopened on the corner of Temple Street and State Streets. One Temple Street (demolished in 2006 by the Five Cents Savings Bank, see earlier post here) was an addition to the Wolfe Tavern (see info on the City of Newburyport’s website here).  In 1814 the Wolfe Tavern moved to the Col. John Peabody’s house, the one that is in all the postcards, at the corner of Harris and State Streets.

The upper post card shows what State Street used to look like. Wolfe Tavern is in the foreground, followed by the YMCA (which burned down in 1987, see earlier post here).  The postcards are pretty cool.

Local Historic District (LHD) and High Street in 1971 from P.Preservationist

High Street, Courtesy of the Library of Congress
High Street, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The P. Preservationist has written a fascinating story about the effort to have High Street be a Local Historic District (LHD) in 1971.

The P. Preservationist has gone to the Newburyport Archives and done some mega research.

Everyone here at the Newburyport Blog, me and the frogs, are mighty impressed. This is definitely a must read.

P. Preservationist points out that there are differences today:

First, we have far fewer Townies present today and they represent a minority in our political scene.  Second, our demographics have changed.   We have a large percentage of people who have moved here precisely because of the historic neighborhoods.  Third and most importantly, the class structure that so bedeviled Bossy Gillis and John Marquand no longer exists.”

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

He has a marvelous quote which, as he points out, is reminiscent of today:

“High Street resident, Elizabeth L. Whiting complained, ‘Surely informative ideas of the many, gently and rationally expressed, deserve as much attention than the ideas of the latter [opponents] which are presented in deliberately caustic and irrelevant oratory.’ ”

You can read the whole post here.

False Statements on the “Say No to LHD” Mass Mailing

Disclaimer here:  Dr. Heersink who wrote a Letter to the Editor on on February 27, 2011 is my favorite doctor in Newburyport. As a doctor he is amazing.  I just happen to disagree with his stance on the proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

In the letter, among other things, Dr. Heersink defends the “Say No to LHD” (which he is a member of) literature that was mass mailed (2,700 pieces of mail) about 10 days ago.  The frogs and I on the Newburyport Blog have put our heads together and where to begin to counter all the allegations made in this disingenuous mailing.

Now usually I don’t like the comment section of the Newburyport Daily News, but the Newburyport Daily News has clarified their comment policy recently, so it looks like I won’t be called a “Nazi controlling zealot” any more, because that would be “racist and abusive.”  So whew! (I hope.)

There was a reply to Dr. Heersink by “GloryBe456” (another poster thought it was moi, not so).  It’s a little strident for the Newburyport Blog’s taste, but since it makes so many points that the frogs and I agree with, I thought I would quote it on the Newburyport Blog (and it may capture the anger and frustration that is out there with “Say No to LHD”).

GloryBe456  (Whoever you are, and the spelling was corrected by moi-I am the Editor of The Newburyport Blog after all.)

“If Dr. Heersink is a member of “Say No to LHD”, then he should know that, considering the people he’s working with, the errors are not inadvertent, but on purpose.

If the members of this group knew city law, they would know that all members of all boards and commissions have to be city residents.  But, “inadvertrently” they stated in their mailing that LHD commission members didn’t have to be.

Another “inadvertent”  error is that people are going to be fined left, right and sideways if they do something the LHD commission doesn’t like.  Well, isn’t that interesting – did you know that the ZBA, Planning Board and Conservation Commission and Tree Committee and Building Inspector can levy fines, too? Guess when the last time was that happened?  That’s right, never.

Yet another “inadvertent” error was that all work requiring a permit will force homeowners to go in front of the LHD Commission.  Oh, really? WRONG!!!! a small fraction of work currently requiring a permit would require review by an LHD Commission.

Shall I go on?

Funny, the “Say No” group states that LHDs will DECREASE the value of your home.  At the same time, in his letter, Dr. Heersink, a Say No member, states that it’s irrelevant if the LHD INCREASES your property values.  Really? Which is it, Dr.?  Show me your data, Say No, that LHDs decrease property values.  You can’t.

Let’s keep going – “Say No” claims that “no construction, alteration, moving, demolition, etc.” will not be permitted without a “certificate of approval”.  WRONG AGAIN!  It’s called a “check off” at the building department that what the applicant is looking to do doesn’t come under the LHD commission’s jurisdiction.  Same was planning and zoning stuff is taken care of now.

Another incorrect “fact”. That the study committee has agreed to a “phased approach” to implementing the LHD throughout the national register historic district. WRONG! there is no ‘agreement’ to “phase in” more of the district.  IF anyone wanted to try such a thing, the ENTIRE process that the study committee has gone through would have to be started ALL OVER AGAIN – and good luck with that!

Costs of owning your home will increase by being in an LHD. WRONG! they are not requiring expansive features, finishes, etc.  Like vinyl siding? You’ll SAVE money in the end by not installing it because you won’t trap moisture in the walls of the house (which would lead to mold and moss growth, sheathing that will never dry out and have to be replaced – the removal of these things later will end up costing you way more than you think you “saved” on painting and regular maintenance had you not put it on to begin with.

Finally, all of the things the “Say No” people have listed as “at your expense” and “at the homeowner’s expense” are NO DIFFERENT than how the ZBA and planning boards work now.  the building inspector himself has ordered people to hire structural engineers “at the homeowner’s expense” if he sees a problem with a project.  So, stop the fear-mongering. Better to spend your time learning how your government works first.”

The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA) in 2012

Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archives, Ancient buildings demolished during Urban Renewal, The Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street in the background, Press image to enlarge
Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archives, Ancient buildings demolished during Urban Renewal, The Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street in the background, Press image to enlarge

My fellow blogger Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts has taken a major civic plunge.  No tip-toeing into the Newburyport civic world for Tom.  Nope, a full dive, right in.  Last week Tom Salemi’s appointment to the NRA (Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, not the National Riffle Association) passed the Newburyport City Council unanimously.

Everyone here at the Newburyport Blog, me and the frogs, are mighty proud.

It would be hard to pick a more controversial board or committee in our fair city of Newburyport than the NRA. (This is a vast understatement.)

The lots that the NRA are in charge of, have literally been fought over for the last 40+ years.  And if P.Preservationist is right, “It is known that the Committee for the Open Waterfront are cracking open their old file cabinets and rallying to restart their efforts.  This sounds like a huge brouhaha coming!”  And that would surprise me not in the least.

I‘ve always thought that the issue of the waterfront, the NRA’s two dirt lots down by the waterfront, would never be resolved in my life time (to see long ago post, press here).  Maybe this is the golden moment, who knows, we will see.  But I am not holding my breath.

I’ve always thought that those two dirt lots are cursed (the history is so complex, who could begin to explain). And in my wanderings to find stuff about the proposed Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD), which includes downtown Newburyport, I came across the picture in this post (I think it was taken in 1968, but I’m not 100% positive), in the Newburyport Public Library Archives.  The caption reads, “First Unitarian Church on Pleasant St. rises from area cleared of ancient buildings as Newburyport’s urban renewal program moves ahead.”  And the photograph looks as if it is taken way, way back from the Unitarian Church, on those two dirt lots. (If you press the image, it will enlarge.)

The photograph is haunting.  It is a reminder to me that when stuff is gone, it is gone for good. All those “ancient” houses gone for good.  And I always wondered if that area, not to sound silly, is haunted.  It has been so difficult to get anything accomplished over the last 40+ years, so many people have tried, that I really and truly wonder.

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

“Say No to LHD” Campaign

It is possible that only Tom Salemi could approach the whole Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) thing with humor, marked with wisdom and humility. (Alas, the Newburyport Blog‘s experience is what my fellow blogger recommends in his Newburyport Today article, that we be “a community” and “stay classy,” might not actually be possible in what has been dubbed, and what I thought had disappeared, but has seemingly been resurrected, “Cannibal City.”)

A bagel
A bagel

Tom opens his article with his experience of being aggressively approached in front of Abraham’s Bagels by one of the “Say No to LHD” folks on their anti-LHD campaign, at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, as he was trying to get some breakfast (great bagels from Abraham’s Bagels, a thumbs up from this born and raised in New York, New Yawker, who knows from bagels, a “blow in,” a “newby,” moi, who has “only” lived here, in Newburyport, for 31 years) for his family.

In his piece in Newburyport Today, Tom Salemi (the author of the well loved blog, Newburyport Posts) writes, “But let’s all do this right.  Let’s handle this with the same grace that we’ve employed with the IBEW protests.  We don’t need to roll in the mud.”

And I agree with Tom, what is necessary is “an informed and engaged public,” Tom’s words.

And what Tom Salemi points out with grace and dignity, is at this point, the “Say No to LHD” folks are giving people information filled with inaccuracies and omission of the facts.

And, yes, this makes it difficult to have  an informed and thoughtful discussion.

I guess aggressively handing out information in front of Abraham’s Bagels was not enough. The “Say No to LHD”  folks have made a mass mailing-2,700 pieces of mail (which one of my neighbors, when they received the mailing, thought was going to be an anti-drug missive), including the flyer handed out in front of Abraham’s Bagels, full of misinformation, scare tactics and omission of the facts.

As one friend said to me, on one of my many walks around my beloved historic city, “It’s hard to get a positive message out there when the default reaction is ‘No,’ and you are dealing with lies” (their word, not mine).

You can read Tom Salemi’s article at Newburyport Today, February 16, 2012, “Take the Bagels, Leave the Petition,” here.

The online petition in favor of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) can be found here.

The Newburyport LHD Wars

From what I can make out, and George and the other “political consultants” to the Newburyport Blog can make out, there are two groups of folks who are against Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

The “Say NO to LHD” folks, who appear to be Tea Party folks, who are misrepresenting and distorting the facts (see previous posts here and here).

And it also appears that the opposition, also often very hostile opposition, which might be the “masses” that Newburyport City Councilor Dick Sullivan was referring to in his quote in the article on the Local Historic District by Brenda Buote in the Boston Globe that can be read here.

The film "A Measure of Change"
The film “A Measure of Change”

There is an amazing film made about Newburyport in 1975 called “A Measure of Change” that can be seen here.  I think two of the comments below the video sum up what some of the more “silent” opposition to the LHD are feeling.

“…our heritage replaced by tourist traps, overpriced specialty shops, higher taxes, impossibly high rents for working-class citizens…  I loved the old town, but it wasn’t rebuilt, it was essentially destroyed, and replaced with some architectural designs that our ancesters would never have tolerated. Why do you think so many former Newburyporters ARE former Newburyporters??  They can no longer afford to live there. The city has been taken over by special interests from out of state… This pathetic attempt to put lipstick on this pig won’t make it acceptable to me, for one.”

And another commentator in reply:

“You said it in a nut shell!  I was born and raised there, but by the time i was 30ish my parents had to put their house on the market because they could no longer afford to live there. And they both grew up there as well, and hated to leave. They spend the rest of their day in NH.”

And from one of the opposition LHD petitions.

“…tell the do gooders to get a life and get out of ours.”

“Work in town. This is a really bad idea. Old time nbpter, not a blow in.”

“Another layer of socialist bureaucracy, by a board of permit komaczars who answer to no one with unlimited autocratic authority…And to think this whole nonsense began because some newby didn’t like the way his neighbor kept his property. Disgusting!”

Lots of anger there.

But at this point, and it could most certainly change, the pro-LHD petition now has 300 signatures, mostly from “blow ins,” who “blew in” 30 to 40 some years ago, to more recently. And the two anti-LHD petitions, one has 24 signatures, and the other has 4 signatures (I don’t think “Oecpexgrmu” counts).

So the “masses” that Dick Sullivan has referred to, might be the folks who are not “blow ins” or “newbies” or “do gooders,” but “old time Newburyporters” (“nbpter”).

I’ve been told that local historic districts don’t create friction in the community, but they do bring to the surface the frictions that already exist.

Petitions R Us

George is happy (although he doesn’t’ look very happy, but who knows if George could ever look happy), I‘m happy.  The online petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) is doing well, and seems, at least at this point, to be adding signatures, 150 for the LHD and 13 against.  This works for me.

George looking happy
George looking "happy"

I wasn’t going to put up a petition, but then I got an email from someone telling me about the petition against Newburyport’s LHD, and I thought, “What the heck, let’s put one up.  We had such great success with the petition in favor of saving High Street back in 1999, maybe this one will be fun too.”

And I’ve gotten so many emails, and even phone calls thanking me, which is so nice. Thank you out there in web-land.  Usually for the Newburyport Blog it’s the other way around.

People seem so fed up with those who are commenting in the comment section of the Newburyport Daily News, trashing, and sometimes very personally trashing those who write in favor of Newburyport’s LHD, as well as giving out an astounding amount of mis-information about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District, that what has been expressed to me is relief, a way to say, “Here we are, we think Newburyport’s Local Historic District is a great idea!!”

If you want to join in signing the petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District you can sign the online petition here.

George’s Take on Happy in Newburyport

George pondering the relationship between The Newburyport Blog and the website Happy in Newburyport
George pondering the relationship between The Newburyport Blog and the website Happy in Newburyport

George Cushing, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog has pointed something out to me.  He has pointed out that I am not showing up for the stuff that I am blogging about on Google, the way I used to, even a week ago, and the fact that traffic to the Newburyport Blog is down. Instead, George points out to me, that the “headlines,” “titles” that I’ve been writing recently are showing up for something called “Happy in Newburyport,” and he and I and The Newburyport Blog are somewhere way down the list in Google world.

Who knew that George was such a tech-savvy frog?

So George and I have a chat.  This is the thing, the owner of Happy in Newburyport contacted me because he wanted to promote the Newburyport Blog on his new website, Happy in Newburyport.  “Fine, fine, fine,” says moi.  And I explain to George that this was a very nice compliment, I just didn’t expect that Google would now find me semi-irrelevant.

I also explain to George, now George is looking at me very puzzled, that the owner John Wells is a realtor in Newburyport that not only sells, but actually appreciates historic homes.

Well, George likes this.

And I tell George, that John Wells is a realtor that is now standing up for Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD), which is a very nice thing, since I’ve been getting a lot of (mean spirited) flack lately (vast understatement)… if you consider being called a “Nazi controlling zealot,” flack.  And that it is very refreshing to have a realtor in Newburyport stand up in a no-nonsense sort of way and speak out very strongly about the LHD.

George ponders with some pensiveness this piece of information, so I show George the comment that John Wells wrote on the Petition in Support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District, which you can sign here… :

As a Real Estate Broker, I feel that protecting the appearance of Newburyport historic homes is important to maintaining everyone’s real estate values in town. I am also comfortable with the layers of controls in the proposal that will ensure that the commission members do not have unreasonable power over homeowners and will be replaced on a regular basis while being selected from a pool of citizens of varying interests. We cannot leave future development to chance!”

And then later Mr. Wells is even more emphaphatic:

I urge everyone who believes in the future of Newburyport to step forward and support this action. The opposition to it is completely based on ignorance of how this is set up to work – there are checks and balances and property owner interests are not thrown out the window as they would have you believe. If you are concerned, the details are online at”

George really ponders this one.  And we decide that it is very nice to have someone in the Newburyport real estate world that so fiercely defends Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), and that we will monitor and ponder the fate of how Google thinks about The Newburyport Blog in light of this new semi, sort of partnership with Happy in Newburyport.

The Comment Section of the Newburyport Daily News

The comment section of the Newburyport Daily News on the pro-LHD Letters to the Editor–Oy Vey!!

I’ve been told that when real names are required, that people are a lot more civil.  In fact I was told this my my fellow blogger Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts, who is a master at the whole comment thing.

I would love it if the Newburyport Daily News would require real names and and check them the way they do with Letters to the Editor.  I think the “conversation” taking place would be a lot more constructive.

Would people be so nasty and sometimes just downright vicious if they had to put their real (verified) name and maybe a real photo, so people would know what they look like?

Would the folks who make those less than civil remarks, make them to the people’s face, in front of other folks, let’s say on the street, in front of witnesses?

I’d like the commenters that comment on the pro-LHD Letters to the Editor (as of today there have been 20, you can count them here), to “man-up” and not hide behind anonymity.

Video on Newburyport’s Urban Renewal-a “Must See”

I hope that this video by Lawrence Rosenblum on what the city looked like before Urban Renewal and after, made in 1975, goes viral. Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts put it up on his blog and it’s beginning to show up on places on Facebook.

One of the cool things is that because it is on video, you can jump around the film and go back and look at the parts that interest you.

It makes what happened to us “visceral.”

Here’s a quote from the Newburyport Daily News, November 26, 2007, “A city’s ‘character’ changed for good.”

“In late 1975, Newburyporters gathered to see themselves on the big screen. Filmmaker Larry Rosenblum had finished his three-year-long project, “A Measure of Change,” a half-hour documentary that explored the city’s battle to stop the federal bulldozer.

“The film may be a catalyst as well as a piece of Yankee advice, ‘look before you leap,'” The Daily News stated in a film critique.

Within a few months, the film was getting international attention. It won several awards and was selected as the U.S. entry at urban planning conferences in Stockholm and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).

Suddenly, the little old seaport was exporting to the world again. This time it wasn’t goods, it was a concept: historic preservation and revitalization.”

Yes, people come here because of Newburyport’s “historic preservation and revitalization.”

Urban Renewal

Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library

Demolition on Inn Street
Demolition on Inn Street courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library

Today, with a tip from Jerry Mullins, I visited the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library where I found the archives from 1967-1974, HUD, the NRA and Newburyport’s Urban Renewal. (All the photos are courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library.)

I took a ton of photos and I often included the captions and some of the text.

You can find the entire album of photos on (the new) Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page.  You can see the entire album here.

Now one can comment on posts on The Newburyport Blog.  I am not good with comments, hence no comments on The Newburyport Blog, but I am looking for help from my fellow bloggers Tom Salemi over at the Newburyport Posts and Newburyport City Councilor Ari Herzog who are masters of the whole comment thing.

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


CVS and the Newburyport Blogosphere

I was massively confused about the zoning stuff and “proposed” CVS  at Low Street and Storey Avenue in Newburyport.  But my fellow bloggers and the Newburyport blogosphere to the rescue.

Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron with some clarification.  More clarification by Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin.  Further clarification by Newburyport City Councilor Ari Herzog.  Some very helpful maps by P.Preservationist.  And of course, Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts has been bloggging his heart out on this one all along.

Globe Article about Newburyport Election, Tuesday November 8, 2011

There is an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe by Brenda J. Buote, about Newburyport’s election this Tuesday, November 8, 2011. It includes information at how important it is to the future of Newburyport’s Local Historic District.

An informal poll of residents by local blogger Mary Baker Eaton revealed that many voters were unaware of the importance of the upcoming election, even though the winners of Tuesday’s ballot contest will help shape the future of downtown Newburyport.

When the new City Council convenes in January, local leaders will weigh a proposal that would create a Local Historic District, which would protect the downtown area and High Street, the principal gateway to Newburyport and the cornerstone of Newburyport’s Historic District. Named an endangered resource by Preservation Massachusetts, High Street dates to the 17th century. From its humble beginnings as a country road, the city’s signature street has evolved into a socially prominent roadway of national renown. It is home to Newburyport’s only National Historic Landmark, the Caleb Cushing House.

If embraced by city leaders, creation of a Local Historic District would protect the exterior appearance of properties along the 2.48-mile High Street and the commercial downtown between Federal and Winter streets to ensure that any planned changes would not detract from the district’s historic character. The intent is to protect historical architecture and encourage new construction compatible with the surrounding buildings.

Two of the at-large council candidates – Sullivan and Giunta – are opposed to the Local Historic District. The others have voiced support for the concept.”   (The other candidates in favor of the Local Historic District (LHD) are Ed Cameron, Barry Connell, Mike Early, Ari Herzog, Steve Hutcheson, Katy O’Connor Ives.)

You can read the whole article here.

Newburyport, Why High Street is Important

High Street
High Street at the corner of State and High

This morning I got a call from one of the Massachusetts’ newspapers about the upcoming election. And one of the questions regarding the importance of the Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD), was, “Why is High Street important?”

I guess I have always assumed that people know the answer to that question, but I guess not.

In 1999 High Street was named an Endangered Resource by Preservation Massachusetts. It was the first roadway ever to be nominated.

These are some excerpts from the Endangered Resource Nomination, which was written by Bill Steelman and Jane Carolan of the Newburyport Historical Commission. The full text us up on the High Street website.

“In an important and meaningful way, High Street not only links, but virtually embodies, all periods of Newburyport’s considerable history.

Beyond its historical significance is its cultural and economic value to the community. High Street is Newburyport’s premier street and one of its major character-defining elements. As the principal gateway to Newburyport, it helps establish the city as an historic, attractive and welcoming place whose citizens appreciate and care for their community’s appearance.

High Street is historically significant. The entire street, its curvilinear course, landscape features and connection to structures, side streets and neighborhoods, contributes greatly to the Newburyport Historic District. Acknowledging its high level of significance and intact nature, the city’s 1991 preservation plan recommends High Street as a local historic district.

It is these images of Newburyport, old and new, which draw several hundred thousand visitors to the city each year, contributing significantly to the city’s burgeoning tourism economy.”

Written in 1999 by William Steelman and Jane Carolan of the Newburyport Historical Commission for the Endangered Resource Nomination.

*The above photograph is of the corner of State and High Streets, circa 1900. It is on the High Street website. It was obtained courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, at the Cushing House Museum, 98 High Street, Newburyport, MA.

Thank You to my Fellow Newburyport Bloggers

A very big “thank you” to my fellow Newburyport bloggers for such a warm “welcome back” as I return from a blogging sabbatical. Especially to the P. Preservationist and my fellow blogger Tom Salemi, who writes the Newburyport Posts.

And also for the nice “thank you” on Facebook from fellow bloggers Ed Cameron and Ari Herzog, who are both running for Newburyport election, Tuesday, November 8, 2011, as City Councilor At Large.

George Cushing
George Cushing Political Consultant to The Newburyport Blog

One of the great things, among so many great things in Newburyport, is that if you don’t want to read an “editorial” blog, such as this blog, with a frog as a political consultant (ie George Cushing, political consultant to the Newburyport Blog), or P. Preservationist or the Newburyport Posts, we have Newburyport City Councilors who blog, so you can go right to the source.

Along with Ed Cameron, and Ari Herzog, Bob Cronin, Newburyport City Councilor running unopposed in Ward 3 updates his blog on a regular basis and in a very thoughtful manner. And we also have Allison Heartquist, Newburyport City Councilor for Ward 1.

And all these blogger want you to go out and vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.