In Arkansas, there lies the only true diamond mine in America. At Crater of Diamond State Park, anyone can dig there in the hopes of finding the ‘Big One’. What struck me were the holes all over the field as diggers furiously threw up dirt. Being from a family of rock hounds; I looked with amazement as rubies, sapphires and semi-precious stones were carelessly thrown onto the ground. It wasn’t long before my brother and I were gleefully grabbing handfuls of the discarded stuff.
In Missouri, fellow cavers and I explored a beautiful subterranean place called Old Spanish Cave. We entered a huge chamber in which our headlights could barely see the ceiling. But what struck me were the holes that filled the floor. Ozark hillbillies had dug furiously looking for Spanish silver ingots. But again I looked at the piles of dirt around each hole – most filled with pieces of silver ore!
Newburyport is filled with history and incredible mystery. You can see it present everywhere, and our visitors definitely feel it. We read about our Revolutionary War activities, the dynamic shipyards that produced the first U.S. revenue ship and the first true clipper ship; and we learn about the great people that came forth from the city. We seek tunnels and cherish our significant buildings – and believe me just like a diamond mine; we have just scratched the surface on the lost significant events that occurred here and lost information on the native ancestors! I estimate that at least 2/3rd’s of our archives need to be exposed to the open air – and what makes it difficult is that the early record keepers didn’t think some of this information particularly important at the time. You almost have to scan carefully the records for passing comments and seek the facts from unexpected sources.
But what most residents of Newburyport have completely missed is the stuff chucked off to the side; in our eager interest to experience this ancient city; we’ve heaved treasures literally into the trash. Residents live here and never bother to find out who lived in these ancient houses before them; as I have mentioned before – many a famous person’s homestead contains no historical marker nor plaque – the residents totally oblivious.
But worse of all, the historic houses are being chucked. The real treasures of the city are the moldings, the architectural styles, the windows and the frontages. These are more precious than gold – and they last! Our city is filling up with citizens who care very much about the environment and believe fervently in sustainability – and in another breath, will chuck long lasting materials so they can replace them with products made of petroleum and designed to only last for 15 to 20 years.
Seeking the high quality of life in Newburyport only to chuck aside the real treasures in dumpters and landfills. Newburyport is all about history and the first thing to the curb goes the history!
Much of this has to deal with pure ignorance! No knowledge of our history, no knowledge of the historic neighborhood or the unique culture that is imbued in the ‘Newbury’s’; and no knowledge how much value in equity and tax revenue depends on the retention of that history.
Historic Preservation’s key component is Heritage Tourism.
And Heritage Tourism is our bread and butter!
Yes, it brings the visitors and yes, we may obtain initially commerce from them; but it also enhances our desirability as a community – pumping up our equity, pumping up our property values and ensuring us a very high quality of life.
Visitors are constantly aghast that we have citizens here who put down blacktop when they should put down brick; who rip out the distinctive architectural styles and put in some cheap retail product; who gut their interiors for ‘modern’ looks.
Even our visitors cry out,
“Don’t they know what they are doing is harmful to the city, and to themselves!?!”
No they don’t. They chuck all these treasures aside in a futile attempt for diamonds.
The problem is ignorance, blissfully or willfully.
It is up to many here to aggressively educate and persuade and attempt to inform them how idiotic they appear to the rest of the world!
PS: Join the Newburyport Preservation Trust if you wish to preserve our city, but also make yourself known out there before the Diggers throw everything out!