33 Market Street – A Slippery Compromise

According to the definition of Georgian Architecture and this home is a classic Georgian home; the following according to the Salem Handbook, dated 1977 and still used today in that venerable city’s historic districts says,


Usually double-hung sash. Symmetrical placement. Pedimented dormers often used in attic*. Upper story windows often flush against the frieze.



Usually gambrel; sometimes gabled. Hip roof became popular around 1770.”


Dormers of course are windows that stick out of a roof.       Gabled is the typical roof line of most homes and gambrel is very common among Georgian homes.


The picture to the left indicates the most common roof types located in Newburyport.    The Bartlett Mansion on Federal Street is a fine Georgian home with a hip roof.      Shallow hip roofs are also common on Federal-style homes.     The Mansard roof is seen in French Empire architecture and is peppered all around the City.

So, what is the conclusion?      Depends on the principles of historic preservation.    Some like to think of Newburyport as some sort of Disneyland or Las Vegas.      Everything is about appearance.      Hence we have brand new homes on High Street, one for example is Georgian, another Federal.     The look an feel of the city is what is important who cares if it’s genuine.     What does it matter if synthetic materials now replace the original wood?     What does it matter if no history every occurred in that building?

If appearance was everything and history accounted for nothing, then switching the gable roof at 33 Market Street to a gambrel is no big deal.      In fact, it will enhance the property’s value now that it has dormers and a larger-volume roof space.       But Newburyport is also history.       When the home was built, was it originally a gable roof?      There are Georgian homes all over the City with such a roof.       As for dormers, half of the Georgian homes have them.      

But was the roof type original to the house?      Unfortunately, we don’t know.    To confuse things, there are many cases where gambrel roofs have been removed and a gable or a hip roof put in place.      

Again, it would be very interesting to see what the Preservation Trust and the Historical Commission have to say on this rather creative and inventive approach made by the architect and the homeowners.

-P. Preservationist

* My emphasis


About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
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