This sign was posted on the marquee at the First Religious Society of Newburyport on Pleasant Street. (Picture courtesy of Diane Hall)
There are many who hate to hear about what is really happening to our society. They cry out and say, “Why don’t you be quiet?” “Why all the fuss? Things are going good right now and all you do is generate bad feelings.”
During the Civil Rights Movement, many extraordinary attempts to “shut people up” were made because they wanted to keep the status quo. Sometimes ridicule, sometimes persecution and other times nothing was ever said as bigotry was actively practiced but never declared.
In Newburyport, people have been exploiting the rich assets of our historic district since World War II. Whether it was “modernizing” or “demolishing” or that euphemism of gutting called “renovation”; slowly but surely, we are closing in on half of our district being lost. All the while, City Hall annually gets “free cash” from all the fees, permits and taxes from all that construction. Developers can flip the houses and make as much as a third more on new homes that are more suitable for the modern suburban tastes. Banks can make a huge profit as willing buyers come in and pay exorbitant prices.
Ironically, most who come to Newburyport are seeking after a taste of our history:
“People come to Newburyport to be attracted by the historicity of the community”
-Mayor Richard Sullivan, Sr.
And then we have those, who, when the pressure successfully “shuts up” those who see the loss, say, “I don’t see houses being demolished.” or “We need to trust the homeowner to do the right thing.” which of course is supposed to assuage the citizens of Newburyport and fingers point to a few fancy homes on High Street to justify their statements.
But the fact is, a large group are actively “not doing the right thing”. We have a firmly established historic house at 5 Strong Street in which the demolition delay has run out and instead of preserving this significant structure, they are actively preparing to demolish it.
The owners of the Walsh House at 284 Water Street have desired to add demolition as an option to any future buyer. This building is beautiful on the outside and very beautiful on the inside. The negative is that it is outside the Newburyport Historic District. But its architectural and historic significance is firmly established in that the National Park Service specifically included this house in the NHD inventory even though not contiguous with the district. That is saying something very special.
Delores Persons is now actively selling this house but it remains in danger as the demo delay comes to an end August 7th. We have many eating away at our historic district who callously are calling for the “clock to start ticking” so they can further exploit the very district that makes Newburyport a desired destination for living and visiting.
As James Roy stated recently:
“[The anti-historic preservationists are] betraying our rich and glorious heritage and betraying our progeny who, when everything is gone, will have no idea why Newburyport
was ever considered special, aside from a few piping plovers and the annual…Yankee Homecoming.”
If we don’t speak up about the things that matter, one day our quality of life will end and Newburyport will no longer be Newburyport.
IT IS TIME TO SPEAK UP!