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
For years, the word was passed along by those deeply ashamed of the city’s deplorable state; that we, in fact, had no national historic significance. This attitude was one of the main reasons that George Cashman started Yankee Homecoming. He placed it so that festivities would end at the date of the birth of the U.S. Coast Guard so people would realize that this place did matter. He also wanted to inject into the natives a renewed pride for their city.
We desperately need to re-affirm what George started so long ago. We have developers and building owners who are today destroying the national legacy by demolishing or gutting our historical buildings – and have that attitude that there is nothing special about our city and it should be ‘carted away’. Worse, the abutters, seeing it happen – make note, shrug their shoulders, and go on about their business. Others see no need to sustain the historic feel of our city. They look at the task of sustaining our historic architecture as an unnecessary nuisance.
I have listed a compendium of national historic significant buildings, events, people and places in Newburyport that should receive the recognition of National Historic Landmark status. And I might add, it is not an exhaustive listing. Research will reveal more as readers comment and historic research is forthcoming.
But you may wonder, why is this designation so important? There are two major reasons. One, if we obtain a landmark position; grants and Federal loans receive a priority status by grant givers. It places our ability to attain them all the easier. Most applications require a pile of bureaucratic hurdles – and by putting us on a landmark level, we end up going to the front of the line. Second, we become nationally recognized. That means that Washington no longer treats us like a backwater hamlet. We become a significant part of the National Park network. Our city presently thrives on visitors which are primarily day-visitors. Yet, we have enough alone in this small city to justify multi-stay trips. It will super charge our economy by increasing our national exposure. As part of that extra attention, the Park Service has offered and will offer, technical assistance to maintain our city to go along with the financial assistance. This goes beyond helping us with tourist brochures and signage; it also means access to professional know-how to preserve our historic architecture. These are outlined in this benefits document.
In 2009, the Daily News relayed the dying wish of Polly Chase-Harrell that the city would become a National Historic Landmark. In response to her previous request, a letter was sent out by then Mayor John Moak; and periodic visits have been made by representatives in Washington as to giving the city that designation; but City Hall since then has not followed up on that possibility.
It doesn’t protect our historic assets but it becomes a driving force to aid and protect our historic assets.
It is a very elaborate process so it needs to have the full force of the city behind it.
We need to resist this drive to make us some infrastructure-stressed Boston bedroom community.
We must rise to the same status as Charleston and Portsmouth.
Our economy demands it, our future requires it and to walk away is to doom us to indifference.
As we seek the renewal of the Master Plan to extend to 2025, one of the important goals that must be included is the attainment of the National Historic Landmark status.
PS. I invite every citizen to read about the National Historic Landmark Program.