36 North Atkinson Street was an event that signaled a sea change in the way Newburyport handles historic properties.
This nautical term, first recorded in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, indicates a great transformation and a new way how things are done.
Because Newburyport was so piss poor for such a long time, it has for many years been standard policy for City Hall to look the other way when builders and contractors would violate the agreed commitments and plans. Ever thankful that someone would actually do some construction in this tired, old mill town; they were doubly thankful to get the permit fees and the hope of future property taxes. There was also an unwritten rule that any ‘message’ that potential work would be inhibited or barred could discourage others not to choose Newburyport.
This attitude lasted for years until the word spread in the construction industry that going through the motions was totally acceptable. Say what you had to say and then do what you wanted anyway. Even if you were caught, the punishment would be slight with a few penalty fees or symbolic mitigation procedures.
This all changed with this property. The owners after making agreements with the City disregarded them and also significantly destroyed the original architectural features of the house. And the City took aggressive action to stop them from further work.
And I credit the historic preservation movement.
Newburyport is a unique assemblage of architectural and historical treasures which makes our tax assessments strong and stable and our ever-increasing property values of renovated and restored historic homes our economic engine.
One tiny line in the Daily News indicated that 36 North Atkinson Street was sold to a new buyer.
Sometimes it’s the little things in the paper coupled with obscure articles that can signal important things going on in the community. Meticulously scanning through the newspaper from cover to cover can reveal some amazing events. Besides, it’ll make the the economically-pressured local papers happy you read through the entire paper!
If you had attended the Planning Board meetings, the previous owner and the owner’s lawyer actually came and requested that the preservation easement be removed. They claimed that the easement was preventing the home from being sold..and (as if this didn’t make the board incensed) all the significant historical materials are gone anyway.
This old real estate myth is based on the idea that few buyers will countenance owning a home with lots of restrictions on it.
Again, it all depends on where the house is! Newburyport is no longer a tired old mill town. It is the Charleston of the North, it has regained its significance and regional leadership. Thousands are saying in their hearts and minds; I want to live in Newburyport*.
Having a preservation easement and having them in your neighbors houses too, ensures that the treasures of our City remain in our city. A local historic district does the same thing: an LHD guarantees that the winning appearance of our City will stay that way.
As the Paper makes it clear, the easement did not stop the sale of the house. Newburyport is the place to live.
* Fortunately for most of us already here, the myth is that we are too expensive a place to live. Otherwise, we would be bulging at the seems from all the people moving in!