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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 Architecture & History page.

Historic* House Buyer’s Guide

*Historic, antique, vintage, period, or “old” homes endowed with imbedded natural resources, craftsmanship, and presence!

NPT’s Historic House Buyer’s Guide is an information-packed brochure prepared especially for those exploring the purchase of an older home in Newburyport.

The concisely presented content includes (1) a guide to period styles; (2) how to recognize evidence of quality craftsmanship; (3) what details to look for … and care for … and why; (4) how preservation adds value to a home in Newburyport; and (5) NPT preservation resources and consultations. Conceived by NPT volunteer Jack Santos and crafted to final form by NPT board members, the hope is that this introductory brochure will help prospective owners of an older home in Newburyport understand the value of preservation and responsible stewardship.

While the compact brochure is available in hard-copy form to real estate professionals, and will also make its way to prospective homebuyers at an assortment of public locations, a handy PDF file — printable, downloadable, and suitable for email sharing — with the same brochure content deployed on three standard-size pages — is available here now!

Click HERE for NPT’s Historic House Buyer’s Guide — in 3-page letter-size format.

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.

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 website.

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 website 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 articles 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

Museum 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. 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. 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 more than 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, which included a cogent and illuminating narrative of Newburyport history, was completed in 1991 and its findings were formerly referenced in the city’s Master Plan. The city’s Master Plan of 2017 expresses many of the same ideals.

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, note that 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 2018-2022. (89-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. This introductory page includes links to the full 241 pages of the standards in PDF format. The standards and 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 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 by the Newburyport Preservation Trust (2011). Prepared by local architects, writers, and designers, the book includes an introduction to the periods and styles of domestic architecture found in Newburyport, a glossary of terms, and historical sidebars in addition to the walking tours. Walk Newburyport is a must-have for residents who want to learn more about the buildings that give the city its special character. You can purchase Walk Newburyport directly from the Newburyport Preservation Trust online, 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. A hardbound book of the same name was published by the Daily News in 2008, and is 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. (The link is to a readable or downloadable PDF file at the Internet Archive.)

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 HABS and the HABs Nots: Documenting the Architecture of Newburyport in the Historic American Buildings Survey, by Reginald W. Bacon (2017). This large-format volume presents the crisp photos and elegant measured drawings of Newburyport houses documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), the federal program established in the 1930s that advanced preservation across the U.S. Related context includes economic history, origins of the HABS program, earlier documentation efforts, a guide to house styles, and topical bibliographies. The “HABs Nots” Gallery looks at the future of preservation in Newburyport, where the more modest historic homes in its 750-acre National Register Historic District are at greatest risk of being lost to “the march of progress.”

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 generously made this house history research guide available to all as a downloadable and printable PDF file from this NPT website.

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.

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).