What can I say? I’ve been doing the house stories for awhile now – my primary focus has been to do highlights on the big mansions but also on the smaller homes that pepper the vast majority of buildings in the Newburyport Historic District.
It has been one enjoyable adventure but sometimes just focusing on one house doesn’t tell the whole story.
Newburyport has been filled with people of simple means rising from their situation, and prospering through their hard-work and God-given talents to become influential and wealthy.
Take Albert Currier. Lives in a small house on Kent Street, way too close to the Caldwell Distillery, not exactly a well-to-do neighborhood. When I read at the Newburyport archive room the house number where he lived, I went over to take a picture; I had to run back to the Library to double check if I had read wrong! This was the great builder? No offense, but his home is nothing to look at!
This is where the man who built the massive Globe Steam Mills and the Tannery lived? This is the man who built City Hall and the Immaculate Conception Church and the Central Congregational Church? Who built some lovely brick row houses on Munroe Street for the Mill workers? His brick handiwork in fact is spread all over Newburyport.
The man who was Mayor during a turbulent time just before the Civil War? Who, when the North Church (Central Congregational Church) burned down by the hand of an arsonist, rebuilt the church in just nine months?
But as his fame as a mason and contractor grew (He was no architect as Greg Colling constantly points out.) he ended up becoming quite an extensive landlord – in fact, he bought up the row houses on Munroe he had built and re-rented them out. His prosperity and influence grew until he moved into the Boott Mansion just up the street at 21 Kent Street.
As I would sing, “Movin on up!”