Demolition of Downtown Newburyport

The buildings next to the Five Cents Savings Bank in downtown Newburport that were demolished in 1972 to make way for a drive though addition.
The buildings next to the Five Cents Savings Bank in downtown Newburport that were demolished by the bank in 1972 to make way for a drive-in addition. (Courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library)

The photo from July 1972 from the Archives of the Newburyport Public Library shows old, historic buildings next to The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank.  The archive also says that those old, historic buildings next to the bank on State Street were purchased by the The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, and that the bank planned to demolish the buildings and construct a drive-in addition, with the entrances and exits from Temple Street and Charter Street.

And in 1984 The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank put up a very contemporary addition in place of those historic, old buildings.

In 1972 Newburyport had “turned the corner” and the brakes were put on the demolition of downtown Newburyport.  But, one of our most beloved institutions, that has done so much for this community, and that has so many wonderful folks working there, tore down part of historic downtown in 1972.

The thinking had not completely changed.  Old buildings, still in so many minds, meant economic stagnation, and the new contemporary architecture implied economic vitality and a bright new future.

The contemporary addition by the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank that replace the old, historic buildings in downtown Newburyport.
The contemporary addition by the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank that replace the old, historic buildings in downtown Newburyport (see above photo).

And part of it was the times.  The aesthetic back then was to combine the old architecture with new modern architecture. The Inn Street fountain, its modern sculpture (which I happen to love) in an historic setting, is an example of combining the old with the new.

But I look at the buildings in the photograph from the Newburyport Public Library and I ache when I see those old buildings now gone forever.

And as I said in an earlier post, the trend to demolish old buildings continued for The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, which demolished One Temple Street in 2006, a few years ago, and put up a contemporary addition in its place.

And, it’s just a guess, but one wonders if such a fuss wasn’t made by the community over the demolition of One Temple Street, whether there would be a reminder of what once stood there, a replica of the old facade of the historic building.

So, to sound like one heck of a squeaky record, don’t think that downtown Newburyport is safe from demolition or unwanted alterations.  We need that insurance policy, a Local Historic District (LHD) in the worst way.

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