Getting your money’s worth

Tomorrow night is First Friday Friends Social at the Newburyport Custom House.        

It will be packed.

In fact, just about every one of these gatherings (members only and their friends I might add) that membership has risen dramatically for the museum and the number of new exhibits and events have followed this rise making Robert Mill’s building, the hottest place in town.


People perceive they are receiving value for their membership cost.       They receive excitement, great conversation, stimulating lectures and new, hot, and I might add relevant information about the historic city of Newburyport and ESPECIALLY its unique ties to the sea and to the U. S. Coast Guard.        Add that the Custom House advocates preservation for our city and closely allies with those who promote heritage tourism which then makes them the unique vehicle that public and private entities can turn to.       

And of course, the First Friday Friends Social tomorrow night will be recounting whale boats made right at the Lowell Boat Shop and the telling of the whaling industry and how it relates to Newburyport.        Before and after, will be beers from Harpoon Brewery in Boston, select wines from our local Grand Trunk and another food adventure as Sheila Mullins explores the authentic foods of Martinique.        In fact, this week; there was a special write up on the spice food adventures in the Daily News.

Now while you’re beating a path to the museum as a member or twisting the arm of one so you can be invited; or contemplating going down to the museum shop and joining; let me tell you about a very close partner with the museum who desperately needs your membership and hopefully, your participation; especially if you live in Newburyport and own property.

The Newburyport Preservation Trust.

As I explained in a previous post in great detail; the Preservation Trust is largely concerned with, of all things, protecting your property rights and even more, your property values.     You see, you can, on your own, pour great amounts of money and time into your home until the neighborhood drives by and sees a great beacon of beauty.      You might think that you have it made, but there are two other factors that are largely beyond your control.      The first is the streetscape that surrounds your house.    If a ghastly house that is out of proportion and scale ends up being built on your street, or heaven forbid, the general care and maintenance of the neighbors’ houses are neglected, you’ve just had a hit on your property values.     It greatly affects your rights as a property owner as a bank won’t let you borrow on your equity for improvements if they know the value of the neighborhood is going down.       

The second is the general condition of the city.       You could build a gorgeous mansion in the middle of Lawrence but don’t expect the property values to go up.       Many come to Newburyport and buy because they anticipate with confidence that the value of their home is going to rise.        But the primary allure of our city is our red hot historic district.       If it’s largely demolished or so renovated it loses its historic looks, or the historical architecture is obliterated and is slowly replaced by misshapen McMansions or something that belongs in suburbia or in Anytown, USA;   Newburyport will cease to be the tremendous attraction it enjoys today.         With lowered property values comes eventually lowered assessed values and the first sign will be the shuttering of our multiple real estate offices.    The shuttering of bed & breakfasts and hotels will follow shortly thereafter with the shops.             And without the intense desire of prospective buyers, the city will begin to see lowered tax levies affecting our infrastructure, services and schools.    This will all begin at first slowly but then one day, we (who are still living here) will wake up one day and see a ‘used-to-be’ prosperous community.

The Preservation Trust is dedicated to do several important things.     Protect our streetscapes, protect the historic districts, educate our citizenry on the care and preservation of an antique house and to promote heritage tourism so Newburyport becomes a rich cultural draw not just a great place to have an ice cream.

If you want to keep the good times coming for our city, you need to join the Preservation Trust.        They need your talent and time and of course, your money; but they also need your support.    

They don’t have a building that sucks up cash.     They do not have a paid staff demanding benefits.        They need your help because much of their work hasn’t even begun.      They need to host seminars and workshops, they need to sustain preservation easements and they need to coordinate and work with preservation craftsmen, assist the beleaguered historic homeowners and work with the city so these special buildings in our historic districts can be maintained.

Have your membership to the Custom House?     Great!      Now protect your home by joining the Trust.

-P. Preservationist

This entry was posted in Architecture, Craftsmen, Downtown, Easements, Economics, Education, Heritage Tourism, Maintenance, Organizations, Planning, Preservation, Quality of Life, Real Estate, Renovation, Restoration, Streetscape, Streetscapes, Taxes. Bookmark the permalink.

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