The purpose of the Newburyport Historical Commission (NHC) is to protect, preserve and promote Newburyport’s historic structures, neighborhoods and landscapes.
The Historical Commission typically meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month in City Council Chamber to review demolition delay applications, and any other project occuring within the Newburyport Historical District that may seek the advice of the Commission. The Commission, which is a volunteer board made up of seven local residents, acts as a local advisory group to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for projects that require Section 106 or M.G.L. Chapter 254 review for historic preservation.
Among other duties, the Newburyport Historical Commission is charged with reviewing applications filed under the City’s Demolition Delay Ordinance. Under this ordinance, any demolition or changes to roofline to structures 75 years old or older must be reviewed by the NHC. Accessory buildings must also be reviewed if they are 100 years old or older. The purpose of the Ordinance is to protect and preserve structures in the City that reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of Newburyport.
Upon request for a demolition permit or a permit to change a roof line, an applicant is directed to apply to the NHC using the Demolition Delay Application. When the Planning Department receives completed application packets and the filing fee, applicants will then be scheduled for a public meeting with the NHC. The purpose of the initial meeting is to determine whether or not a structure is historically significant and preferable for preservation. If the NHC determines that a structure is not significant, they may instruct the Building Commissioner to release the demolition and/or building permit. Applicants are then required to apply for any necessary permits through the Building Department. If the NHC determines the structure to be historically significant, they may either continue the hearing to another date to request additional information, or they may schedule a public hearing. If it is determined that a public hearing is necessary, Planning Department staff will post the necessary public hearing notices and mail out notices to abutters of the subject property.
If an applicant is required to hold a public hearing, they must present their Demolition Plan to the NHC. The Commission then has the ability to either notify the Building Commissioner that the demolition/building permit can be released, or it is considered “Preferably Preserved” and invoke a one year delay on the issuance of a demoltion and/or building permit.
Occasionally applicants must also apply for permits from other land use boards, such as the Zoning Board. Applicants may find the process runs more efficiently if they receive their decision from the NHC prior to applying for other permits. If you have any questions during the process, please don't hesitate to ask Planning Department staff.
Preservation Restrictions held by the NHC:
Newburyport Historic Surveys - Learn more about your historic property.
Preservation Briefs (excellent technical guidance on treatment of historic materials and properties)