City Policy: Historic District Signage

1. Historic District Signage.
2. New Building Inspector.
3. Public Restriction Tract Index
4. Rubber Sheeting
5. Archeological Ordinance.
6. National Landmark Status.
7. Sidewalk Maintenance Plan.
8. Utility Lines Undergrounding.
9. Demolition Delay Expansion.
10. Tree Commission Support.
11. LHD Expansion.

I often wondered what the response would be if the homeowners on the National Register were informed that their house has such a designation. I think many would be surprised. Positioned carefully, they just might become advocates.

                                                                        -Allyson Lawless, October, 2012

NROHP Signage

The seeds for the recent troubles of 2012 concerning the local historic district were sown long ago in the 80’s.      When the National Register of Historic Places awarded the designation to the Newburyport Historic District, the first thing they requested for the city to do was to put up signage.


Even as our restored downtown became a great attraction and caring citizens began the hard work of restoring their homes; the actual district was conveniently ‘forgotten’.       For fear that more highly qualified artisans and developers familiar with historic restoration from outside the city would eclipse the local craftsmen, every effort was made to push the whole idea out of the conscience of the average citizen.     

And the years went by.       Even the members of the Historical Society of Old Newbury so instrumental in saving Newburyport began to leave the concept of architectural preservation in the ash heap of history.

Thus it was no surprise that in the passing of time, we had a great number of people who moved to Newburyport who didn’t even know our culture, our history or what caused the city to be so affluent.        Many moved to the twelve non-historic neighborhoods and thought it was ‘just the way it is’ that our city was so attractive to so many.       Others just loved the ‘prettiness’ of our buildings and neighborhoods and never even thought to explore the details or what history caused all this ‘loveliness’.      Shallower still, many thought it was our funky coffee houses, shops and restaurants and our local marinas that made us so affluent.

And thus with a great wave of ignorance and a small vested minority of detractors fueling with misinformation, the unthinkable became true – a resistance against the very concept of historic preservation.

The city with its 104 silly signs that run from Route 95 to Atkinson Common; nary has a one that announces that anyone is entering the Newburyport Historic District.

One should be placed at the corner of Marlboro & High in the east.

One should be placed at the three corners by Atkinson Common in the west.

One should be placed at the corner of Ashland and Merrimac in the east.

One should be placed at the bay facing corner where Union and Water meet.

And one should be placed on State Street just north of the shopping strip where Ipswich National Bank and the New England Wine & Spirits is located.     One certainly should be placed at the bottom of the ramp coming off of Route One South.

The issue of placing these signs up should be the litmus test for future city and mayoral candidates and it should be pushed hard in our planning & development office.       Then and only then will we know the true motives & visions of those who wish to serve our great city.

-P. Preservationist

PS. Another indication as to reluctance to inform the general public of the existence of our historic district; no offer to acquire and purchase the site has been made by the city.      I would pass it happily on to the planning office for a nominal fee but no such effort has been made – a sad but interesting sign. (Nor has the Preservation Trust for that matter!)

This entry was posted in Education, Heritage Tourism, News and politics, Planning, Preservation. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to City Policy: Historic District Signage

  1. YEAT boy says:

    Ñew signage may look like this:

    My walking app takes advantage of bar codes, and there is one on a house sign at 10 Spring St

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