One of the simple joys of living here has been to track down the ship plaques that have been posted on our historic homes. I say ‘historic’ because there is a difference between something being historic and something being historical.
Concerning the latter, an historical house is simply one that is 75 years or older. Nothing may have ever happened here, but its sheer age guarantees an architectural window to an earlier time. In the Newburyport Historic District, it is guaranteed that at least 2,500 of the homes are ‘historical’
It is quite a different matter if a house is ‘historic’. Either it has a unique architectural feature or something significant happened at this house or it is connected to some important event or person.
As part of our vital heritage tourism industry, individual property owners who live in our historic homes, have proudly expended the money to put up plaques so that not only our visitors but their neighbors can enjoy the important sense of place that Newburyport literally breathes out through every view.
But unfortunately, we have our fanatical libertarians and anti-historic preservationists who live here who fail to understand any of this. One of the loudest has actually turned the historic plaque so it can not be seen from the public way defeating its very purpose. I asked others who were abutters in the neighborhood to get a picture of this sign from the view of their yard – but no one has dared. I can’t blame them since I certainly wasn’t going to do it for fear of this happening. Well, this weekend I noticed on the way back from the Tablet Ceremony that a nearby apartment complex had an elevation to it and using long-range zoom lens was able to complete my online collection. Of course, it is only temporarily finished for many concerned citizens are doing the research and putting up new plaques. If anyone sees one, let me know!
If you have an historic home, and are wondering where to go for a plaque, here is the link to obtain one. If the New England weather has made your existing plaque rather sorry, here is the link to restore it. I encourage you to sustain the central theme of the ship’s mast. Even if you discovered that you are living in a restored jail, you know for certain some drunken sailors were thrown in there in the past! Most everything directly or indirectly is connected to the water in this port town.
PS. Please don’t embarrass us by putting up a ‘dinky’ plaque just to save money. Just remember, visitors from all over the world come here to see ‘your’ plaque! Your public display affects us all negatively or positively.