It sometimes shocks me that newcomers want to not only have the cake, eat it but then they want to hog it for themselves!
It’s no secret that compared to the real estate wasteland out there, Newburyport is looking pretty good right now. Contractors and developers are practically drooling and want in…badly. Problem is, the place is loaded with these colonial, way-to-small, buildings that anyone from the ‘masses’ would normally laugh at as a future prospect.
The solution? Tear the ‘old’, rooms-to-small, midget homes down and put up a bigger house for 21st century appetites. The usual rational is, “We’ll put up a new house that ‘looks’ old but will be code-compliant and suitable for a ‘modern’ lifestyle. Sometimes, they’ll throw a carrot-stick out to the local boards and claim they’ll use old elements in the new construction.
And that’s where they trip up badly.
Problem, the word, “code-complaint”. All the things that make an historic home so attractive are not possible because new construction must follow the newest codes. It doesn’t make any difference if you replicate a colonial, or a Federalist or a Georgian; they will never be the same. They will be a Neo-colonial, a neo-Federalist and a ne0-Georgian. Just built a brand-new Greek Revival? Sorry, that’s a neo-Greek Revival.
Because it’s new? NO!
Because the proportions and construction techniques that were used in the original designs would violate grossly the new requirements of the Massachusetts Building Code. And don’t forget the stringent ‘Stretch Code’ in which authentic historic homes are exempt from!
Let’s face it, if Newburyport is replaced by faux historic homes, it will cease to be an historic community. You can not replace authenticity.
And that is why a local historic district ordinance is a must for our future. Without it, we will have a future in which we become a Disney ‘historic town tourist trap’ We might fool some but eventually the word will get out and our fate will be sealed.
I didn’t move to Newburyport to end up in a ‘has-been’ community.