Preservation Resources & Links

This page is your doorway to preservation-related knowledge, from the theoretical to the practical. Welcome, and walk right in.

Below are links in the following categories: (1) local preservation organizations, (2) statewide preservation organizations, (3) national preservation organizations, (4) museum & history organizations, (5) preservation publications & databases, (6) Newburyport preservation in text & image, (7) Video resources, (8) Recommended Reading: The NPT Preservation Collection at the Newburyport Public Library, (9) More Books: Architecture, Craftsmanship, & Preservation, and (10) Preservationist Blogs.

Make sure to scroll all the way down the page or click a subject from our Table of Contents --- you're certain to find some links of interest. Many of the sites you will land on via these links feature dozens of additional related links to feed your curiosities. (For history-specific or architecture-specific resources, visit the Newburyport History or Newburyport Architecture page.)


Table of Contents:


Local Preservation Organizations

Newburyport Historical Commission. The Newburyport Historical Commission is an appointed body of the city government that serves to protect, preserve, and promote the city's historic structures, neighborhoods, and landscapes. The all-volunteer seven-member commission reviews applications filed under the city's Demolition Delay Ordinance, serves as a local advisory group to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and currently holds preservation restrictions on seven Newburyport properties. The commission's web site includes agendas, minutes of past meetings, text of the Demolition Delay Ordinance, and numerous links of preservation interest to owners of older homes.

Fruit Street (Newburyport) Local Historic District. The Fruit Street Historic District was established in 2007. The district's page on the City of Newburyport web site includes and introduction, photo gallery of properties, text of the historic district ordinance, and meeting agendas & minutes.

Newburyport Community Preservation Committee. The Newburyport Community Preservation Committee, comprised of nine members appointed by the mayor, administers the city's Community Preservation Act, which was adopted in 2002. Community Preservation Act funds may be used acquire and preserve open space, historic resources, recreational land, and community housing. The committee evaluates applications for funding according to specific criteria and makes its recommendations to the Newburyport City Council. The committee's web site includes the text of the Community Preservation Act, the related city ordinance, application form & guidelines, and meeting agendas & minutes.

Historic High Street. Historic High Street is a private web site established to advocate for the long-term preservation of the architectural and horticultural character of High Street.

Newburyport Preservation Trust. (You've already found us! We're right here!) The Newburyport Preservation Trust web site includes information about NPT programs, projects, and membership, and also functions as a gateway to information on local history, architecture, and preservation.

Statewide Preservation Organizations

Massachusetts Historical Commission. The Massachusetts Historical Commission page is replete with links to programs, events, and publications related to history, historic preservation, archaeology, and more. Established by the state legislature in 1963 to identify, evaluate, and protect important historical and archaeological assets in Massachusetts, the commission consists of 17 members appointed from various disciplines. The commission's professional staff includes historians, architects, archaeologists, geographers, and preservation planners.

Preservation Massachusetts. Preservation Massachusetts is a statewide non-profit historic preservation organization dedicated to preserving historic and cultural heritage. Established in 1989 with a mission of preservation education and advocacy, the member-supported organization maintains a directory of Massachusetts-based preservation professionals on its web site.

National Preservation Organizations

National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to saving historic places and revitalizing America's communities. Founded in 1949, the 200,000-member organization provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to protect historic structures, and administers 29 historic sites. Among the many preservation resources on its web site is a homeowner's resource page.

National Park Service (home page). The home page of the National Park Service is of preservation interest because of its deep search function. For example, a search for "preservation" yields thousands of links to technical and theoretical article on preservation best practices.

Market Square Historic District. This link opens an overview of Market Square, which is on the National Park Service itinerary entitled The Maritime History of Massachusetts.

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is an independent federal agency that promotes the preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of our nation’s diverse historic resources, and advises the President and the Congress on national historic preservation policy.

Society of Architectural Historians. The Society of Architectural Historians aims to advance knowledge and understanding of the history of architecture, design, landscape, and urbanism worldwide. The organization supports the preservation of historic places and cultural heritage, but as a matter of policy it does not get involved in local issues. It does maintain professional guidelines for architects who are charged with verifying a property's historical significance.

Museum & History Organizations

Historical Society of Old Newbury. (98 High Street, Newburyport, Mass.; 978-462-2681) The Historical Society of Old Newbury and its archives, collection, and museum are located in the former High Street family home (c. 1808) of statesman and diplomat Caleb Cushing (1800-1879). Visit the web site to learn about research in the archives, museum tours, events, and membership.

Custom House Maritime Museum. (25 Water Street, Newburyport, Mass.; 978-462-8681) The Custom House Maritime Museum is located in the former federal custom house building built in 1835, an Greek Revival granite structure designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument. Through its collections, exhibitions, and programs, the museum showcases the maritime heritage of Newburyport and its place in American history.

Newburyport Public Library Archival Center. The Archival Center on the lower level of the Newburyport Public Library is an essential destination for those researching local history or genealogy. In addition to published local and family histories, holdings include an indexed collection of early photos from throughout the city, as well as bound volumes of the photos and research of individual houses/buildings collected for Newburyport's National Historic District in 1984.

Essex National Heritage Area. ENHA promotes awareness of local history and heritage tourism throughout the 500 square miles of Essex County, Mass., an area that encompasses thousands of historic sites and landscapes. In addition to information about activities and attractions, he web site includes information on historic house museums and first period architecture. ENHA is one of 24 Congressionally-designated members of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas.

Historic New England. Historic New England is a museum of cultural history that collects and preserves buildings, landscapes, and objects dating from the 17th century to the present and uses them to keep history alive and to help people develop a deeper understanding and enjoyment of New England life and appreciation for its preservation. The organization is the largest regional preservation organization in the U.S., operating 37 historic house museum properties encompassing ??? structures. Historic New England's stewardship program holds and administers preservation easements on 81 properties. The organization also includes a comprehensive archives and a state-of-the-art collections conservation facility. Available on the Historic New England web site are a series of Property Care White Papers useful to owners of older homes. Topics range from general building preservation and maintenance to energy efficiency.

Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees of Reservations is a non-profit membership organization that cares for over 100 properties --- over 25,000 acres ---  throughout Massachusetts, including nine historic house museums

National Park Service (home page). As mentioned above, the home page of the National Park Service is of preservation interest because of its deep search function, but the site is also useful to locate NPS historic sites and parks.

Preservation Publications & Databases

City of Newburyport Historic Preservation Plan (1991). The city's Historic Preservation Plan was completed in 1991. The findings and recommendations of the plan were included in the city's still-current Master Plan of 2001.

City of Newburyport Master Plan (2001). The city's Master Plan includes multiple references to and recommendations for a Local Historic District.

The Inventory of the Newburyport National Register Historic District. This site holds a selection of individual property data sheets compiled in 1984 for Newburyport's National Historic District inventory. Streets are listed alphabetically, with properties listed in numerical order by address. (N.B.: Not all data sheets are shown. Hard copy binders of all data sheets and photos can be viewed at the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.) The web site includes data sheets on special districts within the National Register District: Chestnut Street Victorian Residential District, Fruit Street Historic District, High Street Historic District, Joppa Historic District, Merrimac Street Shipbuilding District, Ocean Mills Historic District, Pleasant Street Industrial District, South End Historic District, and Washington Street Historic District.

Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS). The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System enables users to search the Massachusetts Historical Commission database for information on historic properties and areas in the state. However, the database does not include information on all historic properties and areas, nor the entirety of data held by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Plan 2011-2015.  (58-page downloadable PDF file from the Massachusetts Historical Commission)

Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation in Massachusetts - Executive Summary. (11-page downloadable PDF file from the Massachusetts Historical Commission)

There's a Difference: Understanding National Register Districts and Local Historic Districts. (Downloadable PDF brochure from the Massachusetts Historical Commission)

 U. S. Secretary of the Interior Standards & Guidelines for Archaeology and Historic Preservation. (182-page downloadable PDF file). The non-regulatory standards & guidelines outline best practices and provide technical advice for historic preservation projects. The guidelines include standards for identification, evaluation, methods, treatments, documentation, and terminology.

Technical Preservation Service / U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Technical Preservation Services develops historic preservation policy and guidance on preserving and rehabilitating historic buildings, administers the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program for rehabilitating historic buildings, and sets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Its web site includes not only the standards & guidelines, but also 47 informative Preservation Briefs useful for those undertaking preservation, rehabilitation, or restoration projects.

Newburyport Preservation ... in Text & Image

(See also our Newburyport History and Newburyport Architecture pages.) 

Walk Newburyport: Three Self-Guided Residential Walking Tours with an Overview of Common Styles, Local History, and Significant Public Buildings (2011), by the Newburyport Preservation Trust. Purchase your own copy from the Newburyport Preservation Trust online at our Donate & Shop page or from your favorite local bookseller.

A Port in Progress (2007). Between March and November 2007 the Newburyport Daily News published a 37-part series of articles on Newburyport's 1970s renewal entitled "A Port in Progress." The series included over 200 photos. The link above is to a list of 28 articles in the series. A good place to begin is the introductory article by Daily News editor John Macone. (Since the articles in the archive are not in chronological order and do not include all the photos, those interested may want to consult the hardbound book of the same name published by the Daily News in 2008 and available at the Newburyport Public Library.)

White Pine Monograph on Old Homes of Newburyport, Massachusetts, by Richard Arnold Fisher (1917). This original 32-page booklet was published by the White Pine Bureau of St. Paul, Minn. The White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs was published from 1915 into the 1940s by the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association.

Newburyport and Its Business District, by Josephine P. Driver (1964). This 10-page article was published in the spring 1964 issue of Old Time New England, a quarterly journal of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as Historic New England). The article features 19th-century photos of Newburyport by George E. Noyes, and voices concern about urban renewal plans that were taking shape at the time.

Newburyport and a New Kind of Urban Renewal, by Paul J. McGinley, Executive Director, Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (1971). This 5-page article was published in the spring 1971 issue of Old Time New England, a quarterly journal of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as Historic New England). The article recaps the preservation vs. demolition decisions of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Old Newburyport Houses, by Albert Hale (1912). This 150-page book is packed with photos of houses and architectural features. (The link is to a readable or downloadable PDF file at the Internet Archive.)

The Mystery of History: Researching & Documenting Your Old House by Skip Motes & Marge Motes (2012). NPT members and presenters at the 2012 winter seminar, The Mystery of History, Skip & Marge Motes have generously made this house history research guide available to all as a downloadable and printable PDF file from the NPT web site.

Video Resources

A Measure of Change, by Lawrence Rosenblum (1975). This award-winning video is a must-see for every new arrival to Newburyport, and for those who may have forgotten the 1960s-70s. In just 29 minutes, the documentary examines the landmark decision to use historic preservation principles for the first time in federal HUD urban renewal projects. Go directly to the video here.

Newburyport: Farms to Factories (2010, 82 min.). This Preservation Week 2010 presentation at the Firehouse Center for the Arts by the Newburyport Preservation Trust was in collaboration with the Historical Society of Old Newbury. The program details the evolution from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Presenters are architect Linda Miller and Cushing House Museum curator Jay Williamson. (Filmed by Jerry A. Mullins, Port Media volunteer.) Temporarily unavailable.

Excavations at Coombs Wharf, Newburyport (2010, 29 min.). This video provides an overview of the 2010 excavations, and features NPT member Bill Harris, UMass archaeologist Tim Barker, historic masonry consultants Mary & Jane Gage, and Newburyport Historical Commission and NPT member Tom Kolterjahn. (Filmed by Jerry A. Mullins, Port Media volunteer.) Temporarily unavailable.

Video: NPT's Restoration Lecture Series 2008

What Architectural Style is Your House? Newburyport Architectural Styles 1620-1900 (2008, 64 min.). A Newburyport Preservation Trust presentation at the Custom House Museum in 2008, part one of NPT's Six Degrees of Restoration series. Presenters are architects Linda Miller, Greg Colling, and Chuck Griffin. (Filmed by Jerry A. Mullins, Port Media volunteer.) Temporarily unavailable.

Historic Window Restoration (2008, 64 min.). A Newburyport Preservation Trust presentation at the Custom House Museum in 2008, part two of NPT's Six Degrees of Restoration series. Presenters are Bill & Pat Starck of Starck Housejoiners. (Filmed by Jerry A. Mullins, Port Media volunteer.) Temporarily unavailable.

Your House, and How to Preserve Its Historic Character (2008, 64 min.). A Newburyport Preservation Trust presentation at the Custom House Museum in 2008, part three of NPT's Six Degrees of Restoration series. (Filmed by Jerry A. Mullins, Port Media volunteer.) Temporarily unavailable.

Of Hearth and Home (2008, 64 min.). A Newburyport Preservation Trust presentation at the Custom House Museum on Sept. 16, 2008, part four of NPT's Six Degrees of Restoration series. (Filmed by Jerry A. Mullins, Port Media volunteer.) Temporarily unavailable.

Anatomy of a Restoration (2008, 64 min.). A Newburyport Preservation Trust presentation at the Custom House Museum on Nov. 18, 2008, part six of NPT's Six Degrees of Restoration series. (Filmed by Jerry A. Mullins, Port Media volunteer.) Temporarily unavailable.

Recommended Reading:

The NPT Preservation Collection at the Newburyport Public Library

(The following titles have been donated to the library by the Newburyport Preservation Trust, and are available in the Reference Room. Listed alphabetically by author.)

The Country Builder's Assistant (1797), by Asher Benjamin

The American Builder's Companion (1806), 3rd edition and 6th edition, by Asher Benjamin

The Architect, or Practical House Carpenter (1830), by Asher Benjamin

Building the Timber Frame House (1981), by Tedd Benson

The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay 1625-1725 (1978), by Abbott Lowell Cummings

Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use and Avoid (2008), by Marianne Cusato and Ben Pentreath

A Building History of Northern New England (2002), by James Garvin

A Brief History of Old Newbury (2008), by Bethany Groff

Documents, Legends and Archaeology: Unraveling the Mysteries of Newburyport's Past (1977), by Elizabeth Harris

The Salem Handbook, A Renovation Guide for Homeowners (1977), by Historic Salem

The Architectural Heritage of the Merrimack (1941), by John Meade Howells

Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn (1984), by Thomas Hubka

Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies (1922), by Fiske Kimball

Traditional Construction Patterns (2004), by Stephen A. Mouzon

Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home 1760-1860 (1994), by Jane Nylander

Windows on the Past: Four Centuries of New England Homes (2000), by Jane Nylander


More Books: Architecture, Craftsmanship, & Preservation

The following guides are helpful in identifying and understanding architectural styles:

Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and of the Early Republic (1922), by Fiske Kimball (1888-1955). (This book is viewable & downloadable from the Internet Archive.)

Early American Architecture: From the First Colonial Settlements to the National Period (1952), by Hugh Morrison (1905-1978). (A preview of this book is viewable at Google Books.)

A Field Guide to American Houses (1993), by Virginia & Lee McAlester

A Field Guide to American Architecture (1980), by Carol Rifkind

American Shelter (1981, 1997), by Les Walker


The following books address various aspects of early-American homebuilding, both practical and decorative:

Home Building and Woodworking in Colonial America (1992), by C. Keith Wilbur. (A preview of this book is viewable at Google Books.)

Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use and Avoid (2008), by Marianne Cusato and Ben Pentreath. (This is a limited online preview at Google Books.)

American architect and author Asher Benjamin (1773-1845) was responsible in great part, through his design work and his widely-circulated treatises on house-building, for the general stylistic uniformity of early-19th-century domestic architecture in New England. Some of his publications, all in the public domain, are viewable and downloadable from the Internet Archive:

American Builders Companion (1827), by Asher Benjamin (1773-1845).

Practical House Carpenter (1843), by Asher Benjamin (1773-1845).

Practice of Architecture (1835), by Asher Benjamin (1773-1845).


Preservationist Blogs

The following Newburyport-based bloggers and preservation advocates keep a watchful eye out for Newburyport's future. Both blogs are always timely reading, and the searchable blog archives offer plenty of information and photos for preservation interests.

The Newburyport Blog

P. Preservationist ... a.k.a. Brick and Tree

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