House Stories – 110-112 High Street – Pope-Moseley House


  This multi-family home named after the two most prominent inhabitants though covered by trees still makes the eye want to linger at what history is behind the curious architecture.     If anything, this home speaks without words “History lies here and it is hidden.”     Curiously, this home seems to be elusive in giving up its secrets.    Some records put it as being built in 1855, other records indicate approximately 1860.     Considering this was a time of fiery abolitionists, the Underground Railroad and the running up to the Civil War, its original architecture was a reflection of the end of one era and the start of another. Originally, some features reflected the Greek Revival period but also of the popular Italianate all blended into a curious cohesion.     Either way, no one seems to know who actually built the home and lived in it.    Regardless, the home came into the possession of the Pope family.     Reverend Louis A. Pope was the minister of the Baptist Church and Society of Newburyport between 1889 and 1901. He was also President of the Newburyport Choral Union in 1896.        It was definitely around 1894, a two-family structure with one side lived in by the Moseley Family.   Rev. William A. Moseley was born in Newburyport and had graduated from Harvard. He studied for the ministry and was a pastor for a Unitarian Church in Burlington, Vermont. and afterwards in South Scituate, Massachusetts.   He served for many years at the First Religious Society of Newburyport.  At his death in 1894, Moseley left a trust to his sister which was to be given to the Newburyport Public Library at her death. He also left generous sums to the Howard Benevolent Society and the General Charitable Society of Newburyport.


1894 was a terrible time for Mrs. Julia Moseley.    Not only shortly widowed the same year, but on a bitter cold night of February 24, 1894, a devastating fire erupted from a faulty fireplace on the Pope’s side.     The Popes lost just about all of their possessions.    The one bright spot was that Mrs Moseley was able to carry her valuable antiques out of the house to safety.     They were stored at the Burley Stevens Shoe Company on Merrimac Street while her home was being rebuilt.     But she could not escape the blackness of that year.     The shoe company burned down on October 31 along with other waterfront properties and she too lost everything.


Back at the house, the fire had completely destroyed the interior and the roof structure.   Today, the home is the finest example of a Georgian Revival.     The biggest tip off from an original Georgian Home would be the insertion of a Palladian window at the end of the gambrel and the fact the roof is steeper than an original 18th century Georgian.    Also, the doorways and their porticos are copied from Federals that are prevalent along High Street.


Strangely enough, all the mixture of styles seems to work to make this structure very impressive to the eyes.


Today, here in 2010, one side is owned by Barbara and Warren Wright and a multiple of condominium owners inhabit the other side.


One final interesting note is the critical year of 1894.     Thanks to the Reverend Moseley’s largess, two of the trusts that he committed large sums of money to are still very active here in Newburyport.    The Howard Benevolent Society still works toward assisting needy families in Newburyport and the General Charitable Society of Newburyport still meets to assist in many worthy causes here in the community.   The evil of that year has been supplanted by the decades of worthy deeds from these two organizations.    In addition, the City was given a Trust by his sister, The W.O. Moseley Trust for the General Use of the Newburyport Public Library and is still being applied today by the Head Librarians.


Certainly, out of the ashes came good deeds!


-P. Preservationist




Newburyport Daily News, February 22, 1897

Assessors Records 1890-1980

1851 Plan of Newburyport, Mass., H. McIntire

1872 Map of the City of Newburyport, Mass. D.G. Beers and Co.

1851, 1871 City Directories

1884 Atlas

Current Assessor’s Records


About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
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