Newburyport has come to be known for its uncommonly rich stock of early American domestic architecture in First Period, Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival styles. To a lesser degree, also found in Newburyport are fine examples of late 19th- and early 20th-century styles from Victorian and Shingle style (19th century) to Arts & Crafts, Tudor, Colonial Revival, and American Four-Square (20th century). This page provides an introduction to the styles most commonly found in Newburyport that draw people here from far-and-wide to visit and/or make their home.
The Market Square Historic District of Newburyport, Massachusettsencompasses an area of the city near the Merrimack River that was completely rebuilt after a major fire in 1811. Over the next twenty years the area was rebuilt under a building code requiring either brick construction or size limits on wood frame buildings. As a consequence the Market Square area has a remarkable concentration of Federal style brick buildings.
Despite its former prosperity, in the 1950s and 1960s Newburyport's center fell into disrepair because of several factors, most notably strip malls taking away from local business and increased use of the automobile.
Consequently, by 1970 Newburyport's historic downtown section was scheduled to be razed prior to reconstruction with federal money. Ideas to rebuild the city's downtown were numerous, ranging from hotels and new stores to, ironically, a strip mall, with few buildings left for historical reasons. At the last moment, however, the city changed its mind and signed a federal grant that allowed it to keep most of its historic architecture. Renovation and restorations began during the early 1970s, and continued throughout most of the decade, initially along State Street, and culminating with creation of a pedestrian mall along Inn Street.
Newburyport is often cited as an example by preservationists of how to maintain a city's architecture and heritage, while still having it remain functional and liveable.
The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 It includes a number of properties previously listed on the National Register, including the US Custom House (now a museum), the main post office, and the National Historic Landmark Caleb Cushing House.
Today The Newburyport Preservation Trust exists to promote preservation education and advocacy.