Reading two days ago in the Daily News, I was deeply ashamed. Newburyport residents were perpetuating the destruction of an historic building in Amesbury in one of the most crucial heritage spots near Alliance Park. First, the bucolic church was threatened and now, we have home owners who want to demolish. Frankly, if a local historic district is not instituted in this precious part of the City, there will be more sad news in the future.
So what is so terrible? The homeowners want to tear down this historic building because it is too close to the street. They assure everyone that they will rebuild further back with a brand new replica, in other words, a phony historic home.
Unfortunately, this is becoming all too common even here in Newburyport.
The concept of authenticity is being replaced by convenience and a total disrespect for history. Why not tear down the State House and build something better. Why not tear down the Newburyport Firehouse, City Hall and the buildings around Market Square and but something in ‘better’? Let’s tear down these drafty Federalist, Georgian and Greek Revival Homes and build something better? While we’re at it, let’s tear down Independence Hall in Philadelphia, it’s too old and too small!
If this mindset is allowed to flourish, soon Newburyport will be nothing but a TTLA (Tourist-trap, Limited & Anonymous). A Disneyland with fake history and fake historic architecture that could be plunked down anywhere in America. All to get cheap, tacky tourist dollars!
The right thing for these homeowners which even a Bossy Gillis did, was to move the house. There are professional house movers in Massachusetts and because the state is filled with historic homes, laws are actually on the books to aide in moving the building. I have two articles on this very process.
They can move it or they can perpetuate this evil thought. People come to New England to see the real thing not a suburbia replica. In the meantime, Newburyport needs to institute a local historic district ordinance to stop this onslaught of destruction.
PS. It will be interesting to watch what Jay Williamson, the citizen, who is on the Historical Commission decides on this request. I’ve held back criticism of Jay Williamson, the Curator of the Cushing House Museum, even though the Historical Society of Old Newbury has shamefully abandoned the historic preservation issues facing our City. Separated from the board, how will he act in this issue?