Preservation Advocacy: More important than ever

One of the important components of NPT's mission, along with preservation education and providing owners of historic homes with authoritative guidance, is preservation advocacy. In recent years in Newburyport, the alteration or destruction of historic properties to maximize profit has become more attractive to entrepreneurs. As a result, for those who value the architecture, ambiance, and authenticity of this city, active participation in preservation decision-making is more important than ever. We welcome your voice.

On this page you may find “Calls to Action" for preservation advocacy, but it is also wise to check the City of Newburyport website for up-to-date municipal meeting schedules and agendas. (It's better than camping out on the steps of City Hall.)

For up-to-date information on the most immediate preservation issues (like when members need to stand in front of bulldozers or storm City Hall), stay up-to-date by visiting the Newburyport Preservation Trust at Facebook:


Preservation Advocacy:
Some relatively recent foundational background

Several years ago, the Newburyport Preservation Trust supported the community's citizen-led campaign for the establishment of a local historic district in Newburyport. Despite broad citizen support for an LHD, the campaign proved divisive, misinformation prevailed, and ultimately the initiative fell short in the City Council chambers in early 2013. Despite the outcome, analysis of successful LHDs throughout the U.S. suggests that a locally-crafted LHD affords the best protections for historic architecture and neighborhood ambiance. (For comprehensive information about the local historic district concept, presented in a reasoned, non-alarmist fashion, consult the several books on the subject by William E. Schmickle: (1) The Politics of Historic Districts: A Primer for Grassroots Preservation (2006); Preservation Politics: Keeping Historic Districts Vital (2006); and The Historic District Action Guide (2018).)

In the fall 2013 municipal elections, Newburyport citizens elected several new pro-preservation candidates to the City Council, which tipped the balance. Almost immediately one newly-elected councilor began drafting --- and gaining support for --- two pro-preservation zoning ordinances. In April 2014 the Newburyport City Council, in a unanimous vote, passed the Demolition Control Overlay District (DCOD) ordinance and the Downtown Overlay District (DOD) ordinance. Both ordinances replaced the relatively-toothless Demolition Delay Ordinance that was being worked-around and waited-out by property owners and developers intent on demolishing a designated historic structure. Ever since the new ordinances took effect, the Zoning Board, developers, property owners, their lawyers, and rank-and-file pro-preservation citizens have worked arduously through numerous lengthy Zoning Board hearings to navigate the new permitting landscape as it relates to historic structures. The hope is that the new ordinances can eventually be applied fairly and consistently as intended.

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