What a fantastic brilliant maneuver!       I decided to actually attend one of these Local Historic District Study Committee meetings to find out what has been accomplished so far as they seek to match up the Newburyport Historic District (National Register) to the Local Historic District.
Sometimes I feel as if they are hiding under a bushel basket, under a table that is located in the cellar next to the lowest section near the sump pump!
Well as usual, the Committee was discussing how they were going to maneuver through the legislative minefield when they indicated something highly unusual.
Now if anyone looks at the National Register map, you can quite clearly see that the WWOD is outside the Register.    

There is a big hole where the register does not cover directly due east of Route 1…The WWOD.

As I said, this is a brilliant move by the LHDSC because other than some guidelines, design review is off the table.     New England Development could put in entirely different architecture than what is in downtown Newburyport reflecting more the "Cape" rather than our City.       National appeal (and profitability) links Cape Cod architecture with New England.    If you want to draw on accepted stereotypes, better is the profit!      If you don’t believe it, look on Water Street at the ‘Stock Exchange’.       What is it called?        Any other decade and that business would have been run out of town!

By controlling that area, Newburyport’s unique character can be saved!      But there are no buildings, you say.       There are guidelines for new construction under an LHD.    You can download them from the folder below under, "Newburyport Local Historic District".     If you have no time, here is the bottomline:

New Construction Guidelines in an Historic District


Whether in a National Register of Historic Places like the Newburyport Historic District or perhaps later in a local historic district, there are guidelines to follow when dealing with new construction.


Goal:   The new building should complement the historic district without seeming out of place, while maintaining subtle differences from the existing historic core.


Before even considering the guidelines for new construction, it is highly advisable to use the Historical Commission pre-review process as a free consultant service to assist in designing a new structure that will compliment the district.    This should be done before approaching an architect, a contractor and before seeking drawings and permits.




  1. New Construction must be considered with particular sensitivity to the character of the surrounding area.
  2. Certain factors need to be taken into consideration: location, scale and massing.
  3. Front yard setbacks of neighborhood structures should be maintained to preserve the existing “street wall”.
  4. The scale of the structure (height, size of window and door openings, decorative trim and other architectural elements such as porches, bays, etc. and size of footprint.) should be appropriate to neighboring structures.
  5. New foundations should be of a height material and finish consistent with the architectural style of the structure and in harmony with foundation height of buildings in the surrounding area.
  6. New construction should not detract from the character of the area they collectively create.
  7. New construction should reflect the era of its birth as the older structures do theirs while maintaining sensitivity to the scale, proportioning and materials of these “respected elders”.
  8. Keep mature trees on the property to the maximum extent possible.
  9. Design a new building that is similar in scale and massing to others on the street.
  10. Landscaping should compliment the overall district.
  11. Neighborhood patterns for site access, orientation of the building to street, garage or secondary structure location, attached or detached, should be reflected in the design.
  12. New development may demand the removal of historic structures.   Consideration should be given to relocation rather than demolition.  

The exterior of all new buildings constructed within an historic district must be in keeping with the architectural style of the district so as not to impair the value of other buildings in the immediate vicinity in order that the general character of the district should not be injured.


The Study Committee just gained a whole lot of allies!   One of them surprisingly will be NED themselves.     Do you realize how much money they will save if this is done?    They can smooth the permitting, save thousands of dollars on consultants, engineers and lawyers because they won’t have to navigate the complicated process.    They can start right off at the Local Historic District Commission which will cause them to skip the Historical Commission, the Planning Office, the Planning Board, the ZBA and what else they have to fool with.     They won’t be able to completely get rid of these middlemen and offices but compared to what they could be spending, it will be a tremendous savings.     Plus, the approval process will be so much quicker.   


Couple that with an army of concerned citizens who feel threatened by the unknown and will know the city has a firm control over the development and you have a winning combination.


I tip my hat to the LHDSC!!!


-P. Preservationist




About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
This entry was posted in Local Historic Districts (LHD). Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s