A Story from Todd Woodworth and Why I Don’t Think the Newburyport Waterfront Will be Solved in my Lifetime

Todd Woodworth, one of Newburyport’s beloved local historians, told me a fascinating story. Now, because Todd Woodworth told it to me, I believe it is true. (I’ll admit, I haven’t double and triple checked it with Todd.)

Todd Woodworth told me a story about the statue of George Washington that is at the Newburyport Mall (which for those of you who have never been to Newburyport, is on historic High Street above Newburyport’s historic downtown.)

Apparently after completing the statue of George Washington, the artist was so upset with the people of Newburyport that he put his own name below the statue on the marble pedestal instead of George Washington’s name.

According to my conversation with Todd, it took the Newburyport Historical Commission 50 years to get the City of Newburyport to change the name from the artist and put George Washington’s name below the statue instead.

What fascinates me about this story is what did the people of Newburyport do to make the artist so angry that he put his own name below the statue instead of George Washington’s. As well as the fact that it took 50 years for the City to put in the statue’s correct name.

For approximately 30 years Newburyport has been debating on what to do with a piece of property downtown that goes along the mouth of Merrimac River called the “waterfront.” The debate continues with yet another administration.

Unfortunately, unlike the statue of George Washington, there are no obvious or easy answers to this controversy. I figure if it took the City of Newburyport 50 years to put the correct name under the statue of George Washington, it’s very likely that the waterfront won’t be resolved in my lifetime.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport