|These beautiful line drawings are by Blake Hughs and available for sale at the Newburyport Printmaker, Inn Street, Newburyport.
High Street is historically significant. The entire street, its curvilinear course, landscape features and connection to structures, side streets and neighborhoods, contributes greatly to the Newburyport Historic District. Acknowledging its high level of significance and intact nature, the city's 1991 preservation plan recommends High Street as a local historic district.
The National Register district is composed of 2,576 properties, making it the second largest such district in Massachusetts (Boston's South End is larger), and one of the largest historic districts in the United States. The statement of significance for the National Register nomination for the Newburyport Historic District states:
The Newburyport National Register Historic District possesses integrity of location, design, setting, materials, and workmanship as well as historical associations with the city's mercantile, maritime and industrial development. Founded in the mid-seventeenth century, Newburyport has been significant throughout its history as the regional core for Northern Essex County with its greatest period of significance occurring between mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century... [The proposed district contains] an especially large concentration of high-style houses and public buildings dating from the Federal period... Newburyport's low degree of alteration and general lack of intrusion seem attributable to the stability of local population since the late nineteenth century...
In an important and meaningful way, High Street not only links, but virtually embodies, all periods of Newburyport's considerable history.
Beyond its historical significance is its cultural and economic value to the community. High Street is Newburyport's premier street and one of its major character-defining elements. As the principal gateway to Newburyport, it helps establish the city as an historic, attractive and welcoming place whose citizens appreciate and care for their community's appearance.
Since the nineteenth century, High Street has been the subject of architectural historians, artists, and writers. In the 1930's, several of its houses were documented by the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) and many are featured in John Mead Howell's, Architectural Heritage of the Merrimack, published in 1941. The Current Michelin Guide to New England considers High Street "one of the most scenic streets in all of New England."
It is these images of Newburyport, old and new, which draw several hundred thousand visitors to the city each year, contributing significantly to the city's burgeoning tourism economy.
Written by William Steelman and Jane Carolan, Courtesy of the Newburyport Historical Commission.
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