I couldn’t believe that the obituary was not on the first page of the Daily News. This was a man of vision. This man could see what no one else saw. Arthur S. Page was the first to restore one of the historic buildings downtown.
Do you think our long-standing banks lifted a finger to help him? Do you think they ponied up and volunteered to take a risk? Sure if it was a mansion on High Street – they might ‘think’ about it. But downtown? A place of closed businesses – in those days all the action was along the Route One strip or out by Storey Avenue. (And that was even dubious.) No way, no one in their right mind would put dollars into our downtown mainly because of the way it looked and the clientele that it attracted. And this was before the NRA was formed and eminent domain caused the typical building in the center of the city to be boarded up.
No bank was going to take out a loan for a place that was basically equivalent to the inner city of Lawrence (with its crime) and the dilapidated areas of East Boston. The property values were in the toilet with no hope they would ever be rising anytime soon.
But Arthur Page saw something that was only in his heart. He saw the downtown had a chance. He saw something that the average citizen didn’t see.
He took one building, the old Grand Army of the Republic headquarters, purchased it, renovated it and brought it back to its former glory. And he didn’t even have any bank assist him – he saw the potential and risked his own treasury to do it.
And he was the first. So many others also saw Newburyport in their mind’s eye and saw it was going to be a beautiful community with a high quality of life and lovely historic neighborhoods.
They saw it. How did they know?
And these Vision Masters are slowly leaving us and we are mostly failing to take note of the great feat they accomplished. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” These great men and women saw something that the majority of the people could not see but somehow knew it was going to come to pass.
I stand at awe at what they did.
We all need to appreciate what they did!
PS. I might add that most of these men and women were scoffed at, ridiculed and told they were being ‘stupid’ by lesser minds. I know that I have a vision for Newburyport based on a vision – and have received the same reaction. But I can see as if it was as solid as something I can touch. I won’t be discouraged because I use the inspiration of our past Vision Masters as my encouragement. There are others who see parks where there are no parks, rail trails where there are none; maritime ships where none exist and preserved and restored buildings where a for sale sign and a dumpster are posted. Our present day Vision Masters will be ridiculed too but the future and grateful people will vindicate them.