It’s time to get on foot or bike or car and travel around the City.
John Bromfield, bless his heart; did much to create the spectacular beauty called, ‘Newburyport’. In old archival photos, the original downtown and immediate neighborhoods were barren of trees. Food sources were unreliable back then, and just about everyone had chickens and cows and yes, even a pig or two for ’emergencies’. Horses were everywhere. All this required sun-filled yards to support grazing.
When he passed away just before Newburyport became a city in 1850; he bequeathed that a large sum (at that time) would be split right down the middle – 50% for street trees and 50% to create sidewalks. For more than a decade, this new reality transformed us from a cold urban environment to the leafy and pleasant experience we have today.
Regrettably though, all this pleasant, quality of life environment has masked the absolutely stunning architecture that constitutes the Newburyport Historic District; more often than not, you have to get out of your car and peak through the foliage to note our beautiful homes and streetscapes. For most of the year, walking is really the only way to enjoy our architecture.
But once the trees are barren, then the true value of our historic neighborhoods comes shining forth for everyone to see!
But then comes the cold!
Half of us who aren’t native New Englanders (who have been spotted wearing a light jacket and eating ice cream outside in January!) are bundled up in layered clothing with just our eyes peeking out. Then comes the icy sleet and cold flakes of snow that sting our faces and lower our eyelashes. Later, all that frozen precipitation covers over the fine architectural features on the house with their delicate molding – as if anyone was outside caring to take a look in the first place!
It is these brief periods in November and early December and the snow-free (if we’re lucky) stretches of March and April – when we get to enjoy gazing out on the architectural wonder that is Newburyport.
Today, with a trick of nature, it has been extended beyond that brief time and with some very unseasonable warmth to go with it.
Now’s the time to get out and see why the Newburyport Preservation Trust’s fuss is all about. We not only have the second largest National Register historic district in the country but our architecture is a National Treasure filled with a proud history that has affected the American Story in a big way.
We only have a short time before the cold will set in and the snow alas, following shortly thereafter.
So throw off those heavy coats and drooping hoods, and get out and see this wonder.
This is a precious time that won’t come again until late spring!
PS. For those who are good at photography – this is your time – get out there and enlighten us with your images.