1. Historic District Signage
2. National Register Education & Protection
3. Sidewalk Installation & Maintenance Plan
4. Tree Commission Support
5. Utility Lines Undergrounding
6. Rubber sheeting
7. New Building Inspector & Building Department
8. National Landmark Status
9. Archeological Ordinance
10. Public Restriction Tract Index
11. Local Historic District 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
The seeds for the rejection of the local historic district effort back in 2012 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.
AND IT WAS NEVER DONE.
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 consciousness 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.
We desperately need signage. Not just at the entrances to the National Register District but on our historic houses. Presently there is none on such notable homes as James Parton’s or on Adolphus Greeley’s. Only then can we lay the foundation by which both the average citizen and the eager visitor can learn how significant this city’s history truly is.
Jen Wright Signs is doing its part by making the offer to add maritime house plaques to our historic buildings and to replace those worn out by our savage winters.
The city has secured the funds set aside by the state to refurbish the Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary memorial signs. (Of which the city has three) Now the one in front of the Dalton House gleams in the sun.
In fact, the Preservation Trust is going to stress the importance of signage during its Preservation Week and push a new program to greatly expand house plaques in the city.
Our city is rapidly filling up with newcomers who have been attracted by our ecological and historical beauty. It is time we fill them in as to how that all became a fact and how truly fragile all those aesthetics are if we don’t protect it.