Demolishing One House at a Time

It won’t be a grand house that developers will seek to demolish in the Newburyport Historic District; it will be the little houses and the neglected house.      Our beautiful historic district is only valuable in its entirety and yet it is being chewed away by termites who have but one desire – to harvest the high property values that our district generates (by the irony of its uniqueness and history) for their own profit and at the expense of the residents who will lose out with lower property values in the end.

Our very own Al Clifford, who has decided that he can’t resist joining in the despoiling of the homes in our community has decided to pick the weakling in the herd to harvest.    He wants to take a small historical house, demolish it and put in a larger house.       Knowing his handiwork from lower Lime Street; he will end up putting in oversized homes that destroy the streetscape of Russia Street.

He has targeted No 14 for this terrible act.  

According to the National Register of Historic Places, he will destroy a house that is historical and is contributing to the entire district:

Russia Street

3-5Street Address

Map & Parcel

Historic Name

Date of Construction





Ca 1810; ca 1845

Federalist; Greek Revival


11 ——————–

—————— See

10 Congress St






Vacant Lot



Ca 1750-1800

Central-chimney half house




Ca 1750-1800

Central-chimney timber frame




Ca 1930-1950



10 ——————–

—————— See

24 Merrill Street






Ca 1870

Sidehall Italianate




Ca 1750-1800

Timber frame




19th c (?)





Ca 1750-1800

Twin-chimney timber frame




Ca 1800

Timber frame


A “C” indicates it is a contributing home to the overall historic district.  (INT is a home that is not contributing and MC indicates a home that is of uncertain origin or has been so changed as to lose its historical significance.)

To understand how ‘evil’ this action will contribute to our destruction, you must understand that we have huge mansions with small diminutive homes interspersed.    These smaller buildings, even with the high value of our real estate, are ‘affordable’.     In fact, historic districts like ours are the recipe for healthy affordable housing in which the wealthy and the poor mingle in harmony.     If you want to read more about it, check my earlier post.

Mr. Clifford is harming our community by attempting to accelerate the ‘gentrification’ of our community.      Developers looking to attract wealthier real estate purchasers will push for larger, roomier homes.      They will attempt to demolish the tiny homes and replace them with larger accommodations.      This has already been successfully been done by an Andover developer on Hancock Street who took a perfectly fine historical home, tore it down and has put in a large duplex that ‘fills’ the lot space.     

This is the kind of destruction that will begin to cause locals to start ‘moving out’ as it becomes harder and harder to find affordable units that haven’t been ‘supersized’ to attract a wealthier clientele.

The Historical Commission needs to put a demolish delay on this historical home and stop this type of denigration of our precious historical assets!

NOTICE OF A PUBLIC HEARING The Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on an application filed by Brown Square Realty Trust – Al Clifford, Trustee for property owned by Kathy M. Brislin, located at 14 Russia Street in the R3 district, indicated as Assessor’s map and parcel(s) 52-16, and registered at the Essex County South Registry of Deeds as book and page 6202-371. The hearing will be held at City Hall, 60 Pleasant Street, Newburyport, MA on 12/11/2012 at 7:15 p.m. at which time all interested parties will be heard. The request is made under Newburyport’s Zoning Ordinance Sections IX-B Special Permit for Non-Conformities, X-D Permits, X-H-3 Powers of the Board, X-H-5 Appeals, X-H-6 Variances, X-H-7 Special Permits, and X-I Repetitive Petitions and Withdrawal. The applicant seeks all necessary approvals, permits, Special Permits, Special Permits for Non-Conformities, Variances, Use Variances, and/or Appeals on the following request: demolish existing structure and construct new 2 1/2 story single family home File information is available in the Office of Planning and Development, City Hall, 60 Pleasant Street, Newburyport, MA. (978) 465-4400 NT ­ 11/26, 12/3/12

Be sure to attend on December 11th and find out why a demolition delay has not been granted on this historical structure!

-P. Preservationist

PS. This is why the LHD and the Demolition Delay are so important to protect our city!

This entry was posted in Architecture, Demolitions, Developers, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, History, Preservation, Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

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