Society for High Street
an american legacy
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Past Threats & Future Challenges
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These beautiful line drawings are by Blake Hughs and available for sale at the Newburyport Printmaker, Inn Street, Newburyport.

An American Legacy

Downalong High StreetHigh Street, Newburyport's signature roadway, is a linear resource extending 2.48 miles from the Newbury - Newburyport town line to a convergence with the two other roads, an area known locally as Three Roads, at which point its name becomes Storey Avenue. The resource lies entirely with the Newburyport Historic District, a National Register historic district listed in the State Register of Historic Places on August 2, 1984.
With origins in 17th century, High Street has evolved incrementally over time, from a country road that led from the first settlement of Newbury (c.1635) to inland towns and ferries landings on the Merrimack River, to a fashionable and socially prominenet thoroughfare of national renown. Its development, and that of its contiguous reaches, mirrors Newburyport's gradual transition from a small waterside entrepot into a major shipbuilding center, and eventually a manufacturing town. High Street is Newburyport's most well-known historic attribute.
High Street's course is composed of several sections of straight road joined with long gentle curves. Side streets, connecting at right angles, mainly occur at random intervals, displaying no discernible pattern or intent as part of a grand scheme or design. Some were made wide and others narrow. Some cross High Street and some don't, while others are off-set.
Tree-lined, granite-curbed and bounded throughout by sidewalks, High Street's predominately residential character is defined by block after block of mostly large, well-maintained houses, many dating to the late Georgian and Federal periods. There exists a rich diversity in lot sizes, house forms (mansions to townhouses to half-houses), and in setbacks, which range from several feet to several hundred. Sidewalks and fence patters are an amalgam of design and materials.
High Street links Newburyport's two most historic designed landscapes, the Atkinson Common (1893-1894) and the Bartlet Mall, site of the Charles Bulfinch-designed Essex County Superior Courthouse (1805). Laid out in 1801, the Bartlet Mall was redesigned in the 1880s under the direction of noted Boston landscape architect Charles Eliot, with later improvements proposed in the 1930s by Arthur Shurcliff, also of Boston. A third open space located along High Street is March's Hill, a municipal park particularly popular in the winter as a sledding location. The Three Roads intersection and the eastern end of the Bartlet Mall each feature triangular parcels created by the confluence of streets. Both are sites of memorial monuments or public sculpture.
Newburyport's only National Historic Landmark, the Caleb Cushing House (ca. 1808), home of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, is also located on High Street.
Notable non-residential structures include several historic churches and two historic schools, the Kelley School (1872) and the Newburyport High School (1937). Several buildings are individually listed on the National Register. Of the approximately 230 buildings fronting High street, fewer than ten are less than 50 years old.
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