The Enemy of Aesthetics

There I was in Seabrook in a backed up line at the intersection of 107 and Route 1.      I had time to look around and noticed that a BP station that had closed was re-opened.       And it was empty.      I looked around and saw cars steadily pulling into other gas stations but not this one.

The fool owner had cleaned up the pumps and buildings but hadn’t bothered to do any landscaping.   There were weed-choked weeds, weeds sticking as high as a man out of the edges of his pay shack and general tall grasses all around the property.

Even in Seabrook, people will be attracted to clean, attractive businesses.

Believe it or not, here in Newburyport; we have enemies of aesthetics.      We have developers who want to construct inappropriate buildings and surround it with inappropriate landscaping.     We have architects who want to create over-sized ‘masterpieces’ that destroy our beautiful, historic streetscapes with designs that don’t even fit our City.     We have plastic advocates amongst clueless homeowners who want to replace authentic features in a home with BIG BOX store Chinese-made cheap pieces.

You may ask, “Why is P. Preservationist getting so upset when this happens?”

Because all of this is robbing us financially.      There is a veiled threat at the end of the document from the Department of Interior that grants Newburyport, National Register Historic Status.        It states that if enough significant historic buildings are destroyed or severely modified to lose their contributing status, the Newburyport Historic District will loose its standing with the government.  

That means no more tax-credits for renovating and restoring buildings for landlords.

That means no more tax-credits for doing the same work for commercial building owners.

It means no more take-it-for-granted when seeking preservation easements with their built in tax-advantage.

It means no more heritage tourism with all its long-reaching commercial benefits to the region.

It means Newburyport becomes no more than a ‘tourist trap’ for anyone lured into our downtown.     

I actually spoke to a visitor this week who thought all this ‘historic’ talk was made up as a way to lure people to the City.     He didn’t realize we were actually authentic and packed with history.      

We would lose the unique and powerful standing we have in the region.     

Fortunately, we haven’t reached that tipping point yet…but even with the Preservation Trust keeping a watchful eye, the enemies of aesthetics have been rather successful in draining our special assets away.

If the local historic district effort fails, you can kiss all that money away.     We would then eventually become just another City.

-P. Preservationist

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About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
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