Last night was just spectacular preceded by a spectacular day. I was thoroughly enjoying the night air as I was out in the area of Turkey Hill Road. There I was, inside the borders of the City of Newburyport and surrounded by……the ‘burbs. Sure there was a smattering of McMansions but most of the homes were classic suburban. These neighborhoods could have easily been found anywhere in the Greater Boston Area – who could have told they were here? As for the McMansions, I think I found one with no less than four, yes, four different house styles on the same massive structure! Reminds me how they described Bluto’s qualities in the Popeye Movie – "Large". I can see a real estate agent saying, "Yes, its a devil to heat but its large!"
What was most on my mind was how will we convince these neighbors to vote in favor of the expansion of the Local Historic District Ordinance? Concerns of being inside or outside the National Register will be of little concern to them. Historic preservation is very altruistic to these citizens. There is not a hint of history anywhere in the neighborhoods except for a shallow allusion with a few Colonial Revivals. What about the issue of home improvements and repairs? If something breaks in their house, a quick trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s and voila, its resolved! Finding a good contractor that won’t rip them off is their biggest concern.
No, but there is one concern. Unlike a bland development located in Danvers or Saugus or Melrose, their homes are located in Newburyport. That accounts for a lot. Studies have shown and the IRS has documented this as a fact, being near an historic district raises your property values. The better the historic district is protected, the more stable and assured their homes will sustain a rock-solid equity. If you don’t believe it, travel to South Boston and locate a nice development in Roxbury. Try selling a million dollar home in Mattapan. It matters.
When someone sees a home with a Newburyport listing, they picture our harbor, our beautiful downtown and our ecological treasures of the Common Pasture and the Great Marsh and Maudsley State Park; they are not picturing a suburban neighborhood. They see paying top dollar as an opportunity to be "near" these things and still have large rooms and expansive lawns. Everyone outside the Newburyport Historic District has an economic stake in seeing the district solidly preserved.
Regardless, I was happy to travel out of suburbia and return to my historic city. It was like visiting another town!