Sally Chandler © 2004
Wheelwright Historical Garden
The gardens of Newburyport’s Wheelwright House have been nominated for Preservation Massachusetts’ (formerly called Historic Massachusetts) Ten Most Endangered Resource Program.
Endangered Resource Program “chump change?” No.
High Street was nominated and won in 1999. The only roadway ever nominated. It was a very, very big deal. (Fenway Park made it to the top ten that year too, and it’s still standing, thank you very much.)
People bellyache about the Federal Street Overlay, but in 2001 the two historic houses, the William Barlett House and the William Johnson House in the Federal Street Overlay District made it to the top ten. Not only are they still standing, but they both have been lovingly restored, with deed restrictions no less.
(If we can’t have a large Local Historic Districts anytime in my lifetime, maybe people with historic properties could think about deed restrictions for the benefit of the future generations of Newburyport, Massachusetts.)
The “Common Pasture” made it to the top ten in 2004, and the Common Pasture has had many successes. So all of you out there in web land who are sick of acquiring Open Space, don’t forget that one.
From what I can make out, deed restrictions are being placed on the Wheelwright dwelling itself, but nothing that I’ve heard protects the historic Wheelwright gardens.
So what’s with the gardens anyway? Who cares? Parking lots are practical. And how much work would it take to keep that thing up anyway. And who even gets to see it, good grief.
You can hear the rational. Yes?
But historic gardens, like open space or any other historic resource in Newburyport, MA, add to the intrinsic value of the place that we all live or love to visit. To pave over this little piece of paradise would be an incredible travesty and the garden is something that could never, ever be replaced.
So the Endangered Resource List is an incredibly powerful tool. And just because a garden has never been listed before, doesn’t mean that Preservation Massachusetts wouldn’t think it wasn’t just a dandy idea. It wouldn’t be the first time that they thought “outside the box.”