Newburyport’s Waterfront Park

You’ll be having some fun down at the boardwalk

Experience the Sunrise at Waterfront Park

Newburyport Waterfront Park is positioned in the center of downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts.

A perfect green space, Waterfront Park has a great boardwalk that runs along the Merrimack River and plenty of benches to stop and enjoy the waterfront views and boating activity.

Waterfront Park also plays hosts to a variety of exercise classes, the occasional summer wedding and plenty of live entertainment from local theater performances to world class bands during Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming and Riverfront Music Festival.

As part of an Urban Renewal Project in the 60’s, Waterfront Park was taken by eminent domain by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA) and is now maintained and managed by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust, a team of five Trustees appointed by the Mayor. The duty of the Trust is to, “Keep the public ways and Boardwalk “open” for the benefit of the general public.”

Some have expressed interest in a new vision for the park as seen in this Waterfront Master Plan by Union Studio Architecture and Design. In this design the park would increase in size with the addition of two three-story mixed-used buildings and more parking, costing a developer an estimated $30 million.

Citizens for an Open Waterfront remain in support of open views of the Merrimack River including recreational activities like volleyball and a wading pool, as well as improved parking, however the group rejects the proposed buildings as the centerpiece of the design.

Waterfront Park

Downtown Newburyport (behind the Firehouse Center of the Arts on Market Street)

Newburyport, MA 01950


Managed by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust

Special events that require use of any portion of the Waterfront Park require approval. Park Use Application

A Hollywood film is midway through a five-week shoot that has turned the lower floor of a local assisted-living facility into a mini-movie studio, complete with film sets and editing, writing, and production rooms.

Avita of Newburyport, the new memory-care facility adjacent to Anna Jaques Hospital, beat out ten Boston-area locations to provide the real-life setting for “The Last Poker Game,” the story of two assisted-living residents who strike up an unlikely friendship. The movie features a star-studded cast including Academy Award winner Martin Landau, Paul Sorvino (best known for his role in “Goodfellas”), and – announced just last week – Maria Dizzia of “Orange is the New Black.”

The film crew has taken over all 24 apartments on Avita’s lower floor, which has yet to open its doors to residents. The apartments serving as film sets have been redecorated in a 1940s style to reflect the tastes of the movie’s main characters, and others have been commandeered for wardrobe, makeup, and other production needs.

While the shoot is focusing primarily on Avita property, it has also ventured into other parts of the city, shooting scenes on High Street, Atkinson Common and, most recently, Market Street.

Why Newburyport? First ask, why Avita? “The vibe…really fits what we are looking for,” co-producer Marshall Johnson recently told the Daily News. “It is a welcoming place; we want the characters to feel welcome at a time in their life when they are feeling pretty fragile.”

Once Avita had been singled out as the perfect location for the residential scenes, the film’s producers realized they’d lucked into a fantastic surrounding community as well. “We found a lot of little pockets in Newburyport that really work,” Johnson said.

Film co-producer Eddie Rubin agrees, telling the Daily News, “I was driving up State Street and I was snapping pictures and sending them to my wife saying, ‘Oh my God, you are not going to believe it,’ this town is fantastic. The old, red brick buildings, it is the quaint perfect little town and everyone has been so nice here.”

That initial warm, fuzzy feeling was mutual, judging from the reaction at Avita. “We’re bursting at the seams to announce that a film shoot is underway at Avita of Newburyport!” the facility posted on its Facebook page November 6. “Avita residents, families and associates are just so excited!”

So, how has the movie shoot impacted Avita residents now that we’re a couple weeks in? “They’ve been wonderful guests,” says Gerry Gallin, the facility’s executive director. “They’ve not disturbed one minute of our daily lives, and they have been very respectful of our residents.”

It helps to have a small footprint, notes Johnson. “We only have two trucks and we don’t have any star trailers,” he told the Daily News. “So, for us, we want to get in and get out…and be respectful of the people.”

Another major point in the production’s favor, as far as Avita is concerned, is the conscientious effort to present a realistic view of people struggling with memory issues resulting from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Howard Weiner, the film’s writer and director, is a doctor of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Avita’s Gallin has only good things to say about the film’s director, producers, and crew. “It’s been a blast!” she says. “And they love it here, too. They’ve been utilizing all the amenities Newburyport has to offer, including restaurants and shops.” Gallin notes that one of the movie’s main actors has chosen to live in Newburyport for the duration of the shoot.

Gallin, who herself moved to Newburyport from Needham last year, understands the feeling. “We’re very fortunate to live here,” she says. “I just hope it doesn’t get too popular!”

Now that Hollywood has “discovered” Newburyport, it might be time to get ready for our close-up.

Last Poker Game at Avita, Newburyport MA Last Poker Game at Avita, Newburyport MA



This Thanksgiving the Newburyport High School football team will have the opportunity to play its traditional rivalry game against Amesbury High School on the newly renovated turf field atop of Mt Rural.  Mt Rural, as the hill was called where the magnificent NHS now sits, is home to one of the grandest high school stadiums in the entire state, World War Memorial Stadium.   Built in 1930, during FDR’s administration, the stadium took three years to build and employed many men during the Great Depression.

My grandmother was a member of the first freshman class at NHS and was able to enjoy this amazing stadium from the very beginning.  The building of this stadium gave the community a newfound sense of pride and the entire community would come out each weekend for the games, seating as many as 8,000 fans in the stadium!  Over the years, the stadium has been home to concerts, various sporting events, numerous NHS graduations, as well as community events.

The stadium was built for longevity, however, after over 60 years, in 1999, the visitor side of the stands were deemed unsafe and the wear and tear of the years of usage started to show.  A group of concerned alumni, parents and community members decided to form a group called RESTORE and set off on a long journey to raise the necessary funds to renovate the stands and provide todays students with a state of the art turf field.

It took over 10 years, but this Thanksgiving we can all join together to celebrate the efforts of the RESTORE group and watch the historic game vs Amesbury on our new field.  The new field will be dedicated to legendary football coach and long time Athletic Director, Jim Stehlin, who was around when I was at NHS.  The history behind NHS and the entire City of Newburyport continues on for all to remember and enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!


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