An Almost-Golden Hour in Newburyport

Last week was a very busy time of transition. I have completed my six-year chair term and am going back to full-time teaching, which means four classes, four totally-overhauled syllabi and four first classes–for which I am always a tiny bit anxious, even after twenty+ years of teaching. But in the middle of the week I found myself up in Newburyport, an hour early for an appointment. This free hour was late in the afternoon, not quite the golden hour, on a bright and sunny early September day, so I took a short walk on several streets of Newburyport, where the inventory of seemingly perfectly-restored historic houses of every style seems endless, with more in transition. We’re always in transition in September, it seems, so you’ve got to grab a moment, or an hour, whenever it comes along.

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Early September in Newburyport.


12 responses to “An Almost-Golden Hour in Newburyport

  • Helen Breen

    Hi Donna,

    I agree – love new beginnings in September. I also felt “a tiny bit anxious, even after twenty + years of teaching.” (And beyond.)

    It is lovely to walk through Newburyport. Two houses that interested me were those of John Lowell and Jonathan Jackson who built “mansions” side by side on High Street. When the Royalists departed during the American Revolution, they removed to Boston and established their fortunes.

    Appropriately, the motto of the Lowell family was “Know your opportunity” and they sure did!

    Like

    • daseger

      I have a lot to learn about Newburyport houses—there are so many beautiful ones. I think they “benefitted” from having their big fire in 1811 vs. a century + later for Salem.

      Like

  • Helen Breen

    Hi Donna,

    I agree – love new beginnings in September. I also felt “a tiny bit anxious, even after twenty + years of teaching.”

    It is lovely to walk through Newburyport. Two houses that interested me were those of John Lowell and Jonathan Jackson who built “mansions” side by side on High Street. When the Royalists departed during the American Revolution, they removed to Boston and established their fortunes.

    Appropriately, the motto of the Lowell family was “Know your opportunity” and they sure did!

    Like

  • Laura

    Lovely, interesting photos! Thanks for this treat.

    I had a friend who lived in Newburyport decades ago in a very small, I believe, 17th century house. Bread baking ovens in the bedroom (which must have been the kitchen originally). As it was on a side street on a hill, the floors had a little tilt. No closets, of course, so that when you stepped on this or that floorboard, the doors of the wardrobes and cupboards would open! So you were always reclosing them as you moved about the rooms. (Wish I could remember what street it was on.)

    But I do remember the BIG houses too! 🙂 And, that wonderful candy store downtown by the harbor!

    Like

    • Laura

      And enjoy your teaching semester! I’d love to take one of your classes, just based on this blog!

      Like

      • Laura

        Actually I think my friend’s little house was more likely 18th century…. hmmmm.

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      • daseger

        Likely 18th, though Newburyport definitely has some first-period houses. Amazing stock of houses. Thanks—trying to stir things up in my courses this semester–after you’ve taught the same course for a while, things get stale, and I’m also a bit out of teaching-shape!

        Like

  • Helen Breen

    Donna, another factor that has kept Newburyport pristine is the fact that the port was too small to accommodate much of the shipping that moved on to Salem, Boston, and New York. I believe that the town’s revival started in earnest around the mid 20th century. And they have done a great job!

    Like

  • larrypearl

    Hi Donna, Welcome to Newburyport. Yes, we have some fine old homes but cannot match the architectural eloquence of Salem. As always there is a constant struggle with condo conversions, developer disregard for historic value, and the ever present tug-of-war between the rights of private ownership vs the need for preservation.

    Sue Edwards and Emily Lawrence at the Museum of Old Newbury (on High Street) have done a great job keeping the message alive.

    >

    Like

    • daseger

      Well Newburyport looks like more than a match to me Larry, but I really envy your local history museums–Old Newbury, Cushing, Custom House—they are telling a story that no institution in Salem can.

      Like

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