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Topsfield Fair – America’s Oldest County Fair Began in 1818

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, MA County Fair

The annual Topsfield Fair is back, running from October 1st through October 11th with hundreds of vendors, rides, animals, shows, and special entertainment. Known as America’s oldest county fair, nearly half a million people flock to the festivities each year to enjoy a combination of traditional agricultural exhibits with classic fair fun.

Opened daily over ten days, the Topsfield Fair features a Midway section filled with rides, food, and games. Thrill-seekers can whirl and twirlTopsfield Fair, County Fair, Topsfield, MA on fast-paced rides while families with younger children can hit the kiddie section filled with pint-sized entertainment like small merry-go-rounds and driving cars. The Midway is also home to classic carnival games. Rides and games are not included in admission. You can purchase ride packs in advance for a discount or just pay as you go at the fair.

Fair-goers should also be sure to bring their appetites because the food vendors—situated in the Midway—will not disappoint. Topsfield Fair has everything from sandwiches to desserts, and many unique treats with a county fair twist. Try out some chocolate covered bacon, sample fried kool-aide, or indulge in some farm-fresh apple crisp.

Topsfield Fair, County Fair Topsfield, MAThe Topsfield Fair was founded by the Essex County Agriculture Society back in 1818 so it comes as no surprise that farming and animals are a major part of this county fair.  Visit with tiny piglets, sheep with their lambs, and other farm animals at the Farmyard tent and stop into the multiple barns throughout the fairgrounds that house cattle, goats, rabbits, chickens, and more. There is even a beekeeping exhibit with observation hives to watch the bees in action. Along with live animals, visitors can also shop fresh produce from local farmers and goods made by local artisans.

Perhaps one of the most famous exhibits at the Topsfield Fair is the All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off—which is exactly what it sounds like. Farmers from all over compete to earn the title of the heaviest pumpkin and fair visitors get to check out these massive fruits on display. All pumpkins must weigh a minimum of 300 lbs to enter and the heaviest to date weighed in at a whopping 1,689 lbs!

Before planning out your day make sure to take a look at the Topsfield Fair daily calendar which is packed with live entertainment ranging from live musical performances to a demolition derby. There are also live events that go back to this county fair’s agricultural roots like an old fashion tractor pull and sheepdog trials. And if you plan on spending the whole day at the fair, stick around until 5pm for the daily parade around the fairgrounds.

Tickets to the Topsfield Fair, along with ride tickets and food vouchers, can be purchased online in advance at a discounted rate. Discounted tickets can also be purchased for $11 in person at Newburyport Bank’s Newburyport, Salisbury, Newbury, and Amesbury (Friend Street) locations until September 22nd. Children under 8 are always free. Please note that the Town of Topsfield Board of Health has issued a mandate requiring a face covering while inside all building on the fairgrounds, regardless of vaccination status. All pictures used in this article are from the Topsfield Fair facebook page.

 

What’s Up With That Wooden Wheel at Liberty Law

By Robert Ciampitti, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Rob Ciampitti is a co-founding attorney and partner at Liberty Law and represents a dynamic client base of lenders, investors, developers as well as buyers & sellers of real estate – across a variety of land use, zoning, and condo matters ranging from commercial & residential real estate to private financing, development and permitting and innovative deal-strategy. In October of 2020, Rob was admitted to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where he will be completing Harvard’s Advanced Real Estate Management and Development graduate program. An active licensed pilot since 1989, Rob Ciampitti holds a Private Pilot’s License with an Instrument Rating and shares his passion for aviation with his wife and two teenage sons, Rob also enjoys scouting with his two sons and serves as a Scout Leader and Merit Badge counselor for Scout Troop 21 (Newburyport, MA) and is himself an Eagle Scout – recently joined in that honor by both of his sons. Rob Ciampitti was admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court in 2011 and remains an active member in good standing and has held a City of Newburyport Mayoral appointment to the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals since 2002 – where he currently serves as the Board’s Chairman.
Liberty Law, LLC.
Wooden Wheel, Hoist Wheel, Newburyport Liberty Law

If you have ever been to a real estate closing at  Liberty Law, you may have noticed a huge wooden wheel on the 3rd floor (hand-notched with evenly-spaced square holes – each carefully chiseled along the entire outside circumference of the wheel itself).  You may have also noticed the large ship-mast-like wooden spindle that spans enormous roof timbers all square-carved & fitted into the center hub of that wheel.  If so, then you may have asked yourself (or one of us), “What’s up with that wheel?”

The answer is interesting, though not unique in and around the old buildings of 19th Century Newburyport.  The history of this wheel – and surviving building elements like it around our City – is tethered back over nearly 200 years to Newburyport’s rich clipper ship & maritime heyday.   This wheel was called simply, a hoist-wheel and in the mid to late 1800(s), during the height of Newburyport’s global sailing trade, our 3 story building was used as a retail provisions shop.  Offered for sale inside were goods and wares ranging from the ordinary to the rarified – all arriving along our waterfront aboard locally built Clipper ships (things which today can be delivered by a drone right to your doorstep by 11AM tomorrow ….. but ONLY if you’re a Prime Member). 

If you could travel back in time and see this hoist wheel in say 1830 or so, you would have noticed that each of those notched holes supported a single wishbone shaped iron fork.  These iron forks keep a 2 story knotted rope-loop (a rope chain of sorts) threaded on the wheel itself.  Down below, you would have seen an operator pulling one end of that rope loop hand-over-hand on, which in turn would have spun booth the wheel and wooden spindle above.  Of course, as the spindle turned, it would have pulled another rope to create a manual elevator – lifting heavy goods and cargo to the upper floors.  Even today nearly 250 years later, that wheel still seems to spin with ease.

It was widely rumored during this era that some of this cargo, having survived a voyage from the Far East, West Indies or Europe all the way to our waterfront docks, somehow “got lost” along the final 100 feet of its journey to the Newburyport Customs House.  By whatever unrecorded means these goods finally made their way into the city’s commercial interior, we must count ourselves truly lucky today to be among the current stewards of these architectural treasures of our Clipper City’s maritime past.  These very ordinary yet amazing relics of our maritime past remind us of just how incredible it is to have the privilege to live and work under this rare canopy of such “living history.”

The next time you’re on Liberty Street whether for a real estate closing or “just because,” I invite you to come visit us here at Liberty Law – and check out this hoist wheel for yourself (with its 250 year old hand cut iron nails and notched holes).  By celebrating even the “ordinary” of our past, we help these wonderful treasures stay relevant in our present…and hopefully preserved and protected for our collective future.

Rob Ciampitti is a local history buff and the Co-Founder of Liberty Law located at 11A Liberty Street. Rob is also the Chairman of the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals, having proudly served on the Newburyport ZBA for nearly 20 years.

Wooden Wheel, hoist wheel, Liberty Law Newburyport

History of Yankee Homecoming Newburyport

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
History of Yankee Homecoming Newburyport

Yankee Homecoming History

The history of  Yankee Homecoming is far more than just a series of events, it is an annual celebration founded on the ideals that continue to bond our community today. The original Yankee Homecoming history was inspired by three concepts: the need to reunite Newburyport natives with family and friends who had moved away, a desire to stimulate the local economy and to give the locals something to get excited about. In 1958 Newburyport held their first Yankee Homecoming, welcoming and encouraging Newburyport natives and visitors to return to Newburyport for the week long celebration.  Although there were 29 New England towns that originally hosted Yankee Homecoming celebrations, Newburyport is said to be the only city that still continues the tradition today.

The idea for Yankee Homecoming was originated by local New England artist Jack Frost who was determined to restore appreciation for the

Yankee Homecoming Parade

beauty and heritage of New England.  Frost described his vision as “a national pilgrimage back east where it all began”. At the time, many city centers were experiencing economic hardships, with factories and mills closing and storefronts remaining empty and the federal government was stepping in with urban renewal plans.  Frost saw Yankee Homecoming as an opportunity to showcase all the potential these New England cities had. Through the years, Yankee Homecoming has continued to be a festival that showcases everything Newburyport has to offer and a way to help support the local economy.

He worked with Joe Mathers and George Cashman to gain approval from Newburyport city officials. George became the very first chairman of Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming. One of his first orders of business was selecting the date for the annual celebration of which Cashman made sure coincided with the August 4th birthday of the US Coast Guard.  This was very important because Newburyport is the birthplace of the US Coast Guard. In fact, a memorial was dedicated to the Coast Guard on August 4, 1958 during the first homecoming that has become a focal point of the festivities. Cashman continued to support the city he loved, residing in Newburyport until his passing in December of 2006. The 2007 Yankee Homecoming celebration honored its founder and his fifty years of dedication throughout the ten days.

Rich with tradition, Yankee Homecoming continues to be a thriving celebration that makes Newburyport unique, promotes our local economy and provides our families, friends and community an opportunity to come together. Each year residents and visitors alike flock to the city to enjoy the numerous events and support local businesses.  Newburyport is committed to celebrating Yankee Homecoming traditions and proud of how our annual celebration continues to strengthen each year.

The Yankee Homecoming Committee consists of many dedicated volunteers. This annual celebration is all possible due to extensive planning and volunteer efforts that start long before Yankee Homecoming festivities take place each year. Newburyport.com developed a partnership with Yankee Homecoming back in 2014 and is proud to volunteer our services each year running from event to event capturing videos and pictures and utilizing our social media platform and website to significantly expand awareness of the Yankee Homecoming tradition. View 2021 event video coverage and prior year videos on our Local Event Videos page, visit our Live Web Cams page to check live downtown happenings, find feature articles under Events Coverage and of course check the Events Calendar for the complete list of events. If you want to learn more about the history of Newburyport, Yankee Homecoming offers a range of self guided tours during the festival week, ranging from neighborhood tours of historical houses to walks through the Old South Church or Oak Hill Cemetery.  For direct access to the Events Calendar, type “Newburyport” in the App Store or Play Store and download the Newburyport App.

In addition to providing free media services, the Newburyport.com/Yankee Homecoming Partnership also helps to raise money for the Yankee Homecoming Fireworks. If you enjoy dining and shopping in our local community, you can support the Yankee Homecoming Fireworks Fund by purchasing or renewing your Newburyport VIP  Discount Card.  The VIP Program allows you to enjoy discounts at many local restaurants and shops in the Greater Newburyport community. $10 of each purchase or renewal is donated to the Yankee Homecoming Fireworks Fund.

Moving Wall Visits Plum Island Airport in Honor of Vietnam Veterans

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
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The Moving Wall, a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be on display at Plum Island Airport in Newbury from 6 pm Thursday, September 2nd through 6 am Tuesday, September 7th. The replica, which is 252.83 feet long and consists of 58,272 names, has been touring the country since its conception in 1984. Approximately 1,300 people are still unaccounted for prisoners of war (POW’s) and missing in action (MIA). Vietnam Veterans were not honored for their service as they returned home. The idea to create the Moving Wall was originated  by a Vietnam Veteran, John Devitt who while attending the the 1982 dedication in Washington DC, was inspired to share the positive power of “The Wall.” John Devitt, Norris Shears, Gerry Heaver and other Vietnam Veterans built the Moving Wall in order to honor and show gratitude to as many Vietnam Veterans as possible throughout the country.

The Moving Wall procession is scheduled to leave Amesbury Furniture Outlet Thursday between 5 – 5:15 pm and should arrive at Plum Island Airport by 6 pm. The Moving Wall will be escorted to the Plum Island Airport by NEMLAC (NE MA Law Enforcement Council), Patriot Riders, and Amesbury and Newbury police. Residents and tourists are invited to line the procession route and welcome its arrival at the airport. Visitors are also welcome to attend the wall’s opening ceremony on Thursday at 6 pm which will feature a wreath-laying ceremony by decorated Vietnam Veterans, a welcome home ceremony, keynote speakers, and a fly-over by the state police.

The Moving Wall will be available for viewing twenty-four hours a day until its disassembly on Tuesday, September 7th at 6 am. Up to 20,000 are expected to visit this solemn memorial that honors our heroes throughout its stay, including about two thousand area veterans that were personally invited. Volunteers will be onsite twenty-four hours a day assisting visitors as greeters, helping them look up names of the fallen, and escorting them to the correct panel on the Moving Wall. Grief counselors provided by the Lowell Vet Center will also be on hand.

The Moving Wall’s visit to the area is a project ten years in the making for the chief organizer of the event, Dennis Palazzo, who finally secured a date last November. For Palazzo, who has a close friend on the wall, it’s an emotional experience to finally have the opportunity to bring the monument to the area.

“Freedom is not free, it comes with a cost, and the cost is written on that wall,” said Palazzo.

Palazzo and the official host of the Moving Wall, Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming Board of Directors, worked tirelessly with a group of close to 100 volunteers to make this event possible. The outpouring of support from the community to aid Palazzo in bringing this memorial to the area has been huge. He has raised over $20,000 from sponsors, local restaurants and shops are donating meals and goods, the National Guard is supplying a command tent, and Newbury police and firemen are offering up their time pro bono.

“It’s an honor to bring the wall to the area. The names on the wall each represent a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice and never made it home,” said Palazzo.

The article picture are from Moving Wall visits to other cities. From the top of the article to the bottom the locations include: Lewes DE, Cleveland OH and Medway MA. 

Moving Wall Procession Route from Amesbury Furniture Outlet to Plum Island Airport:
Down Market Street to Amesbury Center, continue Up Friend St., go 3/4’s around Rotary onto Main St., continue on Main St. across Route 110, under Route 495, turn Left to stay on Main St., bear Right onto Spofford St., over the Chain Bridge (Newburyport), continue half around the Rotary – 2nd exit – onto Moseley Ave., merge Left onto High St., (Route 113) for about 3.5 miles, turning Left onto Rolfes Lane, (Newbury), turning Right onto Plum Island Airport (ETA a bit before 6:00 p.m.) – with Escort Motorcycles parking on the Airport Runway, in designated area.

Newburyport’s Kabria Baumgartner Digs into Local African American History

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
Kabria Baumgartner, African American History, Newburyport

Newburyport resident and renowned historian Dr. Kabria Baumgartner is digging into the rich and often untold history of African Americans in Essex County. Thanks to a $100,000 grant awarded by the National Parks Service and the Organization of American Historians, Dr. Baumgartner is working to uncover materials and information to help create more inclusive and interpretive sources for local sites that reflect the true racial diversity of the county.

Through public records and census records, Dr. Kabria Baumgartner can confirm there were many African American families living in Newburyport in the 19th century. However, she has found archival materials like newspapers, photographs, and other documents extremely limiting for Newburyport itself. While Dr. Baumgartner, an associate professor at the University of New Hampshire, is still actively researching and uncovering materials, there are some fascinating stories and artifacts that have already been discovered for Essex County. Folks had the chance to hear Dr. Baumgartner’s discoveries first hand, as she was the keynote speaker at the 2021 Newburyport YWCA’s annual Engaging Community Luncheon where she spoke about her findings and shared stories and answered questions.

One such story that she uncovered is that of Sara Baro, referred to as “the African princess”, who lived in Topsfield. Sara, who was born in West Africa in the late 1830s, was captured and brought to the United States as a child. The Conant family “took her in” as an indentured servant—slavery was abolished back in 1783 in Massachusetts, but we know that the labor of enslaved people continued to fuel the economy in Essex County well into the late 18th century. Sara’s life is an amazing story of survival in the face of adversity. The Conant family seems to have treated her well and Sara even received an education at Topsfield Academy. While Sara could not change her class status, she appears to have lived a satisfying life worthy of something very special Dr. Baumgartner discovered—a will. It turns out the Topsfield Historical Society holds a very valuable artifact, Sara’s jewelry box which also happens to contain her will. This shows that while she may not have had a large amount of money, Sara had made enough of a life for herself to feel the need to create this document. Dr. Kabria Baumgarner sees this as just the beginning of her search to find more documents and artifacts related to the African princess.

Another of Dr. Kabria Baumgartner’s stories she has come across is that of the Hinton’s, an African American family that resided in Andover in the late 19th century and early 20th century. This historical story is a great example of black entrepreneurship and a tale of Black family life in New England. Allen Hinton, a freed slave, moved from the south to Andover for a new beginning—where he started his family. It’s also where he started the Hinton Family Ice Cream Farm, the first ice cream selling business in New England. The business was embraced by the community, with Allen and family selling at local schools—Phillips Andover Academy and Abbott Academy for Young Ladies. Allen’s daughter Alice later took over the business and received praise from Booker T. Washington himself for her keen business sense.

Dr. Kabria Baumgartner, who resides in Newburyport with her family,  is an interdisciplinary historian of nineteenth-century African American life and culture in the United States and the author of the award-winning book, In Pursuit of Knowledge: Black Women and Educational Activism in Antebellum America. Dr. Baumgartner and her co-principal investigator in the Essex County African American history project,  Elizabeth Duclos Orsello, continue to research and find artifacts and materials to enrich our communities. Orsello, a professor at Salem State, and Baumgartner both use this grant as a teaching moment, getting their students involved in the research first hand. Photograph taken by Matthew Troisi 22 CPA, UNH EDU.

Spanish Tall Ship Nao Santa Maria Sails into Newburyport

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
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Mark your calendars, from May 31st through June 10th the 200-ton Spanish tall ship, Nao Santa Maria, will visit Newburyport, a city rich in maritime history. The Custom House Maritime Museum will dock this replica of Christopher Columbus’  flagship the Santa Maria at the city’s Waterfront Park as part of their Newburyport Maritime Days 2019 celebration.

The Nao Santa Maria is scheduled to sail into Newburyport, its one and only stop on the Northeast coast, on Friday, May 31st. The ship’s exact arrival time is dependent on the tides, but it should be visible from Plum Island around 2-3 pm. The ship must wait for high tide to enter the harbor and should be docked downtown between 11 – 11:30 pm. The Spanish tall ship’s arrival will be visible from Plum Island to Salisbury, flying an exact replica of Columbus’ Spanish flag. Built and launched in Spain in 2018, the 92-foot Nao Santa Maria was created by the same private foundation that built El Galeón, the Spanish tall ship that visited Newburyport in 2016. The Nao Santa Maria was built to honor the 555th anniversary of Christopher Columbus sailing to America from Spain.

Public tours will be available daily from June 1st through June 9th from 9 am to 6 pm. Tickets are $10/adult, $5/child, or $25/family and can be purchased in advance online or at the Custom House Maritime Museum gift shop. Once the Spanish tall ship has docked, tickets will be available during daily tour hours on the back lawn of the museum. Public tour tickets can be used on any day or time that tours are being operated.

Along with public tours, the Custom House Maritime Museum has also arranged many fun events throughout the ship’s stay. Board the Nao Santa Maria for a private breakfast on Saturday, June 1st and 8th or dress your kids up for a special Little Pirates themed breakfast on Sunday, June 2nd and 9th. For an adult night out, purchase tickets to the CHMM Pirates Party featuring nationally touring Jimmy Buffett tribute band, Changes in Latitudes, dancing, and rum cocktails. Attend the CHMM Black Tie Gala for an elegant evening with a 12 piece big band playing the Great American Songbook, food catered by the Poynt, and a selection of Spanish wines. The Council for Aging will be aboard the Spanish tall ship on Wednesday morning, June 5th for coffee and donuts and a cocktail hour will take place for ticket holders on Wednesday evening. For a full list of events, days and times visit our events calendar. Tickets for all private events may also be purchased ahead of time online or at the Custom House gift shop. Pre-purchase is strongly encouraged, as tickets to these special events are limited and do sell out quickly.

In addition to all the fun on board the Nao Santa Maria, the Custom House Maritime Museum will also host an outdoor market showcasing local businesses at the waterfront park on June 8th & 9th, from 9 am to 5 pm. The Newburyport Collection will feature 18 local businesses to explore, sample, and shop.

A visit to the Custom House Maritime Museum is the perfect way to wrap up your Spanish tall ship visit. Whether you are a tourist or local, this museum is full of information and history about the city of Newburyport and the Merrimack Valley. From displays of famous shipwrecks to the history of the Coast Guard, there is something for everyone.

If you enjoy dining and shopping in the Greater Newburyport area, you may want to consider purchasing a Newburyport VIP Card in support of the Custom House Maratime Museum. The VIP Card provides discounts at 180 Greater Newburyport restaurants and shops and is available as a Digital VIP Card in the Newburyport App or as a Physical VIP Card. Purchase one card for $25 or two for $40 and $10 of your purchase will be donated to the Custom House Maritime Museum. Physical VIP Cards are available for purchase in the museum gift shop and both Digital and Physical VIP Cards can be purchased online. VIP Cardholders receive 10% off purchases of $25 or more in the museum gift shop and 50% off museum admission.

 

Walking Tours of Newburyport – Lively, Historic Tours & Tastings

By Laura Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Newburyport.Com, Laura manages Business Development, Fundraising, the VIP Program, Blogging and the Events Calendar.
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Newburyport Historic Tours – The Best Walking Tours

Hosted by Untapped History – You’ll Laugh, You’ll Learn, You’ll Drink!

A Lively Tour of Newburyport History

This summer, try something new and different: fun historic tours of Newburyport followed by snacks and cocktails inspired by the city’s history. Untapped History, one of the city’s walking tours, is run by local historians Eric Getz and Alex Cain, is just that. These two teachers who call themselves “history nerds,” go by the motto “you’ll laugh, you’ll learn, you’ll drink,” and they achieve that by concluding their walking tours at a waterfront Newburyport restaurant, where attendees try a sampling of appetizers and cocktails that have been enjoyed through the city’s four hundred-year history. These walking tours begin at the Custom House Maritime Museum, then visitors follow the tour guides, who are dressed in 18th-century merchant garb, through downtown Newburyport. The historic tours focus on the Merrimac River, explaining how the river influenced life in Newburyport – and in fact, the country – from the very beginning. The tour guides also discuss Newburyport as the birthplace of the US Coast Guard and how it was an important center of ship-building in the 18th century. These historic tours even go into some darker history as during the Revolutionary War when the city was a center for “privateers,” aka legal pirates who harassed British ships.

Those who participate in any of these walking tours, which makes sixteen stops through downtown Newburyport, get to touch and taste the history. Attendees handle hemp sailcloth fabric and rope used in the ship-building industry, and cones of sugar used in distilling the local spirits. Speaking of local spirits, the tour concludes with a celebration of Newburyport’s history as a center of rum distilleries by letting tour-goers try a rum cocktail for themselves. Partnering with a local rum distillery and a local brewery, walkers get to try concoctions like the “rattle skull,” a colonial-era beverage made with rum, applejack and lime juice, then topped with nutmeg, or something called a “rum swizzle” that features two kinds of rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine. Just the thing after a long walk!

The tour costs $50 per adult, and this includes the walking tour, appetizers and a cocktail. For more information, see the Untapped History web site. And if you have a moment, check out their blog, where Alex and Eric narrate some interesting – and less well known – chapters of Newburyport history.

Untapped History

Start Location for Tours
25 Water Street
Newburyport MA 01950
Alex@untappedhistory.com
978-355-8410

Book a Tour

Tour Details
Tours start at the Custom House Maritime Museum located at 25 Water Street, Newburyport. Please check in 15 minutes prior to your tour at the Museum Gift Shop. Tours are 75 minutes in length and include 16 stops. The cost is $50 per person. The tour will conclude with a flight of historic alcoholic drink samples and appetizers at a Newburyport waterfront restaurant.

US Coast Guard

By Joe, Joe

US Coast Guard, Newburyport MA

Newburyport is the birthplace of the USCG

US Coast Guard

PART OF A LONG TRADITION OF LIFESAVERS

One of 20 stations in the Coast Guard, the Merrimack River Station in Newburyport, Massachusetts is home to the men and women protecting our waters with search, rescue and law enforcement.

As the the birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard, our Newburyport Coast Guardsmen are responsible for some of the greatest rescues, with history dating back almost 200 years.

Born Ready, through intense surf and heavy breaking seas, these men and women maintain and handle several sea going vessels including steel hull boats, a utility power boat and Boston Whalers.

Read more about the history of the USLSS Station #1, Second District Coast Guard Station #20.

US Coast Guard

Merrimack River Station
65B Water Street
NewburyportMA 01950
(978) 462-3428

Date of Conveyance: 1881
Station Built: 1882

Coordinates 42°48′37.68″N 70°51′53.48″W

Connect

Bartlet Mall

Bartlet Mall

Bartlet Mall

A Scenic Park Rich in History

Bartlet Mall, a gorgeous historic park at the intersection of Pond and High Streets, is a great place for ice-skating, sledding, and enjoying nature. Its scenic views provide the setting for a wide variety of popular community events, including Yankee Homecoming Olde Fashioned Sunday, Art on Bartlet Mall, and the Newburyport Lantern Festival.

Bartlet Mall is an ideal place for taking a walk, walking the dog, having a picnic, biking or running. The Mall features a basketball court and one of the top 8 playgrounds in the Newburyport area, which means fun for people of all ages!

There are wide walkways and a series of footpaths that border the Mall and lead to the Frog Pond. It has also become a highly photographed area by many local photographers. The benches, walkways and shade trees create a beautiful setting.  And the view of Frog Pond, with its resident ducks and ornate cast iron fountain, is lovely.

Bartlet Mall dates to the 1600s when the first English settlers used the area as a place to water and graze sheep. It was also a training area for militias that would go on to fight in the Revolutionary War. The Mall was professionally landscaped in the late 1880s using plans by landscape architect, Charles Eliot. This work resulted in the beautiful paths and grassy lawns enjoyed by visitors today.

The historic Superior Court building, constructed in 1805, sits at the edge of Bartlet Mall. It is one of the oldest active courthouses in the U.S. Charles Bullfinch, who designed the Massachusetts State House in Boston, was also the architect for the Superior Court Building.  In fact, both Bartlet Mall and the Superior Courthouse are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bartlet Mall is a shimmering and beloved jewel in the heart of Newburyport’s historic district.

Bartlet Mall

High & Pond Sts.
Newburyport, MA 01950
978-465-7223

 

For upcoming events at Bartlet Mall, check the Newburyport.com Events Calendar.

Plum Island Airport Managed by Plum Island Aerodrome

By Laura Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Newburyport.Com, Laura manages Business Development, Fundraising, the VIP Program, Blogging and the Events Calendar.
Plum Island Airport, Newbury MA

Plum Island Airport Historic Contributions to Aviation

Plum Island Aerodrome

Plum Island Airport, Newburyport MA
Image by Ethan Cohen of UAV Look

Plum Island Airport History and Current Operations

Do you know about the impressive history of the Plum Island Airport in Newbury? Many advances in aviation occurred on Plum Island. The first flying field in New England was built on Plum Island. The original runway over the sand dunes and marshes was made of wood! The Burgess Company built over one hundred different types of airplanes at Plum Island Airport until the end of World War I.  The founder of the Burgess Company built planes for the Wright Brothers and is recognized for his contributions to aviation.

Nowadays, the runway is asphalt, not wood! The Plum Island Airport offers several services to the flying community including flight instruction, aircraft fueling station, parking tiedowns and more. Glider rides and scenic flights are available to the general public throughout the year. The Airport is also used for public services including emergency medical evacuations and Coast Guard rescue operations.

The airport is a nonprofit organization. Volunteers are responsible for a great deal of the work at the airport. The goal of the organization is to make sure the historic nature of the Plum Island Airport is preserved and to inform the public about the history of the airport. The airport also hosts a number of community services, such as tours for schools, youth groups, and community organizations. It is also frequently used to host local fundraising efforts. Featured here is the Newburyport Scout Troup 21 hosting a food drive in support of the Pettengill House.

There is a museum located at the Plum Island Airport. The Burgess Aviation Museum highlights the history of the Plum Island Airport and is open year-round for self-guided tours.  Visiting the Airport and the Museums is free to the public.  Check the Plum Island Airport website for more information and make sure to schedule group tours in advance!

Plum Island Airport is a great place for plane lovers to stop and watch planes take off and land. In addition to its rich history,

Liberty Law Rob Ciampitti Frying from Plum Island Airport to Nantucket for a Real Estate ClosingPlum Island Airport enables local licensed pilots to significantly decrease travel time to regional destinations such as Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. If they are planning a vacation or have a need to schedule business travel, the Plum Island Airport can turn a 2-4 hour car/ferry trip into a 30-45 minute flight. Featured here is Rob Ciampitti, Newburyport Pilot and Partner in Liberty Law & Title flying to Nantucket for a Real Estate closing.

Many folks from the local area ride bikes to Plum Island Beach and enjoy taking a break at the airport while they treat themselves to delicious eats from Metzy’s. During the warm weather months, Metzy’s Taqueria Truck is frequently parked at the airport and folks can enjoy delicious, authentic Mexican food while catching picturesque views.

A visit to the Plum Island Airport is just one of the many fun and interesting Things to Do in the Greater Newburyport area!

Plum Island Airport

24 Plum Island Turnpike
Newbury, MA 01951

Airport Operations Tours/Working Museum: 508-269-4941

Burgess Museum: 978-270-6744

Flight Instruction: 781-325-2135

 

Directions:

From I-95 take exit 86 MA-113 W Newbury/Newburyport. Follow-113 East/ Storey Avenue continuing on to High Street/Rt 1A. Turn left at Rolfe’s Lane/ Ocean Ave. Turn right at the end of Ocean Ave on to Plum Island Turnpike. The airport will be on the right.

Metzy's Taqueria Truck at Plum Island Airport

Metzy's Food Truck at Plum Island Airport

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm

Historic Farm in Newbury

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm is a historic 231-acre property in Newbury with events and activities for you and your family to enjoy. The property features exhibits and interactive activities that demonstrate what it was like to live on a farm throughout the centuries. Much of the land at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm is still under active agriculture!

Visit the expansive open land and tour the farmhouse to see what life was like in Newbury in the 1690s! The farm was originally used to raise cattle, sheep, horses, pigs and chickens. In addition, fruit, vegetables, flowers, barley and fresh meadow hay have been grown on the land. The main house was built with local stone, most likely from nearby Plum Island. There are several outbuildings including a large barn and visitor center that was originally a carriage barn.

There are many fun outdoor events at the Farm including Vintage Baseball from May to October. It’s a lot of fun to watch baseball being played with rules from 1881!

You can also visit sheep, goats, chickens and a horse on the property. The Farm partners with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to foster these friendly animals.  The Farm Friends is a program geared toward children 3 to 6 years old. The children who sign up for this program get to spend time with farm animals, listen to a story, and create a neat craft item to bring home. Programs run at various times throughout the year so be sure to check the Farm’s website for details.

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm owned and operated by Historic New England, a cultural preservation organization. The season for Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm is from June 1st to October 15th, the grounds are open year round during daylight hours. It’s a great place to enjoy a stroll, ride bikes, cross-country ski, and ride horses. There is plenty of parking at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm.

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm

5 Little’s Lane
Newbury, MA 01951
978-462-2634

Directions: Take I-95 to Route 113, Newburyport. Route 113 turns into Route 1A (High Road). Follow Route 1A for 3.7 miles. Turn left onto Little’s Lane.

Plum Island Light House the Newburyport Harbor Light

By Laura Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Newburyport.Com, Laura manages Business Development, Fundraising, the VIP Program, Blogging and the Events Calendar.
Plum Island Light House, Newburyport MA

Plum Island Light House/Newburyport Harbor Light

Guide Us Through the Channel

Plum Island Light House, Newburyport MA

The Historic Plum Island Light House

The Plum Island Light House also know as the Plum Island Light or the Newburyport Harbor Light, has a very interesting history. It was first lit in 1788 with a lantern burning whale oil. And it was the 13th lighthouse to be constructed in the U.S..  It was needed to guide boaters into the treacherous mouth of the Merrimack River and into Newburyport Harbor. The strong currents and shifting sands at the mouth of the harbor present a serious challenge to boaters to this day.

Newburyport Harbor was very active and important to the U.S. for whaling, fishing, shipbuilding, and trade. There were many ships coming in and out of Newburyport Harbor. Before the lighthouse was built, fires on the beach in Plum Island were used to guide mariners. It was the business people of Newburyport in the 1780s that paid to build the Plum Island Lighthouse. President George Washington appointed the first keeper of the Plum Island Lighthouse, Abner Lowell. And three generations of Lowells served as lighthouse keepers at the Plum Island Lighthouse.

There were storms that damaged and original Plum Island Lighthouse. In addition, shifting sands meant that the Lighthouse had to be moved several times.

The current lighthouse dates from 1898. Since 1927 the lighthouse has been powered by electricity. The last keeper left the Lighthouse in 1951 when the light was automated. Today the lighthouse flashes a green light to guide boaters.  It is still very important to have this lighthouse in operation to guide boats safely through the turbulent area where the Merrimack River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The Plum Island Lighthouse is located across from the Park River National Wildlife Refuge at the northern section of Plum Island.

Today the lighthouse is owned by the City of Newburyport. Friends of Plum Island Light lease it from the City and care for it. The grounds are open to the public. The Friends of Plum Island Light offer periodic public tours inside the Plum Island Lighthouse.

The picture perfect Plum Island Lighthouse is one of the great lighthouses to visit in New England and the North Shore.  It’s a “must see” for any lighthouse enthusiast and worth the visit if you are in the Greater Newburyport area. For more general information on Plum Island attractions visit our Plum Island Beach page and check out our Plum Island Parking article for parking lot information.

Plum Island Light House

Northern Boulevard
Newburyport, MA 01950
(978) 973-6935
FriendsofpiLight@gmail.com

The Friends of Plum Island Light maintain the lighthouse and sometimes open the tower. Call (978) 973-6935 to see when open houses are offered.

Directions:

From the Newburyport Harbor Range Lights on Water Street in downtown Newburyport, continue east on Water Street for 1.3 miles, where Water Street will become Plum Island Turnpike. Follow the turnpike for 1.8 miles to Plum Island, and then turn left on Northern Boulevard. Continue on Northern Boulevard for 1.3 miles to the northern end of the island, where you will see the lighthouse on your left.

Market Square Historic District – View Exceptional Video

By Joe, Joe

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Market Square Historic District

Newburyport Urban Renewal Project

Federalist-era architecture

Newburyport’s Market Square Historic District definitely has a past.

Once a meeting place between American Indians and early explorers from England, France and Holland, Market Square was used to trade furs and fish back in the 1700’s given it’s closeness to the Merrimack River.

This all came to an end in 1811 when Market Square was destroyed by a major fire.

As part of a 20-year HUD Urban Renewal Project the brick structures were rebuilt, giving Market Square a Federalist charm that now spotlights its beautiful 19th century architecture.

Included in this Historic District is the 1823 Market House and the Custom House Maritime Museum on Water Street, as well as the buildings on State, Merrimac and Liberty Streets.

Market Square was then listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. It is now known as the largest piece of Federalist-era architecture in the U.S. full of brick row houses with shops and restaurants below.

Newburyport – A Measure of Change

YouTube | @indyjerry77

View in detail the Square’s Master Planning by Finegold Alexander Architects.

Plus, there’s so much more to discover about Newburyport as revealed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Spanish Tall Ship El Galeón Visits Newburyport – May 2016

By Laura Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Newburyport.Com, Laura manages Business Development, Fundraising, the VIP Program, Blogging and the Events Calendar.
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Newburyport, MA a city rich with maritime history, is excited to host Spanish Tall Ship El Galeón from May 25th – 30th, and we can thank the Custom House Maritime Museum for helping facilitate this special visit.  The arrival of El Galeón is expected on Wednesday the 25th between 2-3 PM and will be accompanied by the Coast Guard.  She will come up through Cape Ann and into the Merrimack River offering spectacular viewing opportunities.

Come welcome her to Newburyport’s waterfront and help start a new Newburyport tradition!  As El Galeón passes, The ASpanish Tall Ship El Galeón merican Yacht Club will fire a salute to welcome El Galeón to Newburyport.  Captain Rosario Fernandez will ring the ships bell to return the salute, and the crew will sound their bosun whistles from up in the ship’s sails.  This is a wonderful opportunity to partake in the start of a Newburyport tradition.  All are invited to participate by sounding their bosun whistles.  You can purchase these beautiful copper and brass bosun whistle souvenirs at the Custom House gift shop for just $6.

There are many festivities that will take place during the Maritime Days celebration including:  general public tours, student toursPirate Night Costume Party, Flamenco Evening (sold out), Breakfast on a Tall Ship and the Children’s Pirate Party!  Tickets to tour Spanish Tall Ship El Galeón can be purchased online or at the Custom House gift shop.  General public tour tickets will also be available at the waterfront kiosk but we recommend purchasing tickets as soon as possible, as this exciting event is expected to bring large crowds to Newburyport.

Whether you are local to the Newburyport area or just planning a visit, this is a special experience that you don’t want to miss.  Come tour Spanish Tall Ship El Galeón, Newburyport MASpanish Tall Ship El Galeón and we highly recommend a visit to the Custom House Maritime Museum as well.

If you enjoy our maritime history and would like to help support the Custom House efforts, consider purchasing a Newburyport VIP Card online or this weekend outside on the back lawn of the Custom House.  The VIP Card allows you to enjoy discounts EVERY TIME you visit 180 participating Greater Newburyport restaurants and shops and $10 of your $25 card purchase will help support the Custom House Maritime Museum.

 

 

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