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.