I encountered today an old Newburyporter and it just so happened, I was wearing my Preservation Trust T-shirt. He looked at the full name, Newburyport Preservation Trust and looked at it like was an alien organization. “What do they do?”
Fair enough question. One of the tasks given to this organization is to continue to preserve our city’s downtown and historic neighborhoods. I say continue because the citizens started the whole process back in the sixties and seventies; this organization wants to continue that legacy.
And why is it so important? Because a lot is at stake.
Every generation has a wacky idea of modernizing. We make fun of the 70’s but at the time, they thought they were so “cool”. And yet, their ideas turned out to be so wrong leaving future generations to replace their ideas with their own modern ideas!
The Preservation Trust wants to keep our city as historically beautiful as it can be and the challenges are always coming up from each generation.
The Mayor and some candidates may think historic preservation isn’t a priority and just another issue but if it wasn’t present, they would be dealing with an entirely different municipality.
I’ll let the Director of the Custom House say it best when he made the following statements during Preservation Week 2013,
“You know it is hard not to think about the value and contributions that preservation has made to Newburyport…Last year , there was a video that was resurrected that was made in 1974, “A Measure of Change” and it was a brilliant documentation of the issues and episodes where Newburyport teetered on the edge of being leveled for basically a shopping mall. To be headquartered or to have the cornerstone and the marque name plate be Zaires. And as enlightening that seemed at that time, you can see how quickly such ideas pass by and what would have been brilliant and invigorating didn’t take long to get rusted and discarded.
Preservation seems to cut through all of that and sometimes it takes a bit of work and effort to appreciate the true value of a place like Newburyport as seen today. And how many people who walk through here and marvel at the atmosphere and ambiance don’t appreciate how close it came to be a parking lot with perhaps the old Zaires store still uninhabited. There is in fact one up the road here a few miles that still remains uninhabited.
To keep in perspective because it was after all very close that we achieved what we have today; if it were not for the forbearance of preservationists we wouldn’t have this gem we call a home.”
-Michael Mroz, Statements during Preservation Week, May 10th, 2013
So the candidates for Mayor may fuss over parking, parks and schools and worry over sidewalks, taxes and waterfronts, but none of these issues trump the fundamental fact of historic preservation.
I love my home, Newburyport, and it wouldn’t be the way it is today if it wasn’t for dedicated citizens who work to protect this historic city.