Demolishing an Historic House for a Swimming Pool

“Look, Elly May,” said Jeb Clampett, “at the size of that there cement pond!”

We’ve been told by the opponents of the local historic district ordinance that protecting historic buildings is totally unnecessary.     Everyone coming to to an historic area will naturally do the right thing and preserve and restore the house.


Then they dare us to show examples of people not practicing historic preservation.

I have already shown and will continue to show the blatant examples around Newburyport – but the fact is, there are hundreds of violations of basic historic preservation principles all over the city.     Unlike the anti-LHD opponents, we would prefer to keep our neighbor’s mistakes private.       Besides, historic preservationists make mistakes themselves, intended or accidental, while they are actively doing an historic renovation.      No two historical homes are alike and many times the needed skills are hard to come by or the methods need to be relearned since a skill may have died out long ago.      

No, I would prefer to promote our community rather than cause division.

But right next door, Newbury has a flaming disaster – Henry Becker sold his beautiful Federal Mansion and Carriage Barn to his neighbor for 1.6M.      The neighbor has quietly decided to demolish the beautifully historic Tappan House so he can put in a swimming pool.

Now if you have been over to Little’s Lane, it is truly idyllic.      The beautiful line of trees to the Historic New England’s Little Farm is gorgeous.      Even the setting would demand the natural logic of preserving this irreplaceable home.       There are plenty of fields to move the house just a few hundred feet!

But Newbury doesn’t have a demolition delay ordinance.     They don’t have any form of local historic district and many of their ancient homes aren’t even recognized on the National or State Register.      The good ole’ boys have spurned CPA so there isn’t even any funds to assist the town.       Falling for the old developer’s lie, more houses built means more tax dollars, they are financially in trouble and are now making things worse by abandoning ecological and historical conservation.

I’ve used the example of Princeton, NJ which is wonderfully preserved but they ignored their abutting town neighbors and now they have lost open space and historic communities.   Now urban and suburban homes butt up against the City’s border.      

That could be our fate too.

I believe that Bill Harris’ statement is most true:

“the Newburyport Preservation Trust should no longer consider its jurisdiction to be the City of Newburyport. Like the “Hist.” the NPT needs to recognize that the historical resources of this community encompass Newburyport, Newbury, and West Newbury. The “Trust” had not shown its presence in Newbury. We did not receive any notice of a risk to two significant buildings on “Old Newbury” because the “Trust” officers have acted as if they have no “equity” in the historic resources of Newbury.”

I am also guilty of the same statement.

After seeing the incompetence of West Newbury and Newbury overrun by good ole boys, retired NAIDers and  ____ ______, and the attitude of Newbury residents on Plum Island; it is time to keep tabs on our local towns and to advocate ferociously there.     I’ll start monitoring town meetings and find out who are all the ‘characters’ in each place.      From what I have read even lightly, we’ve got a lot of work to do!

I, P. Preservationist, will expand officially to cover the Newbury’s!      May the Preservation Trust follow suit.        

-P. Preservationist

swimming pool

      How large will this thing be?

This entry was posted in Demolitions, Historic Demolitions, Local Historic Districts (LHD), News and politics, Open Space, Restoration. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s