The National Register of Historic Places’ Newburyport Historic District (NHD) is now online. It took a lengthy chunk of time to link the Historic Survey information to the Inventory which includes every building within the Register area.
I did discover why there is an anomaly between the two lists. The mystery has always been why the historic survey includes buildings well outside the district and why the inventory only lists select homes. The Survey, so graciously converted to .PDF format by Arnold Lessard and posted by the Planning Office, tries to include every home that may be potentially historic throughout the City of Newburyport. It also gives historical summaries to special areas within the City: The South End, the North End, Curzon Mills Area, the Ship Building District, etc.
By this reason alone, the Historic Survey is excellent as a stand alone compilation. is still an excellent tool for the Historical Commission and researchers and concerned homeowners outside of the NHD.
The Inventory is strictly within the cohesive boundary of the district itself.
As more research and submissions by homeowners grow, additional links will be added to enhance this list.
Why is this so important?
Well, of course, it becomes a great tool for the Historical Commission, the Local Historic District Study Committee, the Planning Office, the Preservation Trust and recent efforts toward making Newburyport a National Historic Landmark.
But, there is a more urgent affair.
Not accessing this list could cost thousands of dollars to homeowners!
The Mayor and the City Council under advisement from the Energy Taskforce seem to be hell-bent on installing the Stretch Code as part of the Building Codes. It means that any business or homeowner who wants to do improvements to their building will be required to follow these new directives. New directives that could add thousands additional to a standard home improvement project. Worse, if your home predates the early twentieth century, radical changes will have to made to make your home ‘compliant’ adding further expense.
But historical homes are exempt!
Right now, there is no online link at the City of Newburyport directing anyone to find out definitively if their home is historical or not. Since the Historic Survey was only a sampling of the homes in the city, there is no way to know unless you check out the Inventory!
But making it worse, the Building Inspector will not exempt a home if the owner says nothing about its historic status. The old saying, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” will hold true here. And as long as the Planning Office insists on not posting the Inventory list, its up to individual building owners to walk down to the Library Archives to determine their status! There is absolutely nothing on the City of Newburyport website to warn any of us. There is nothing on the Building Inspector’s site.
Hence my online posting. There is an old saying also, “Ignorance is bliss”.
If the City passes this Stretch Code, willful ignorance will COST YOU!