NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 10, 2014

Saving an island landmark

Fundraiser set to help protect Bennett Hill from erosion

PLUM ISLAND — In what could be a last-ditch attempt to save the historic Bennett Hill home before its falls into the Atlantic Ocean, a charity event has been organized to try to protect the fast-eroding dune that home sits on.

Plum Island Beachcoma owner Greg Pugh, who put together the effort, hopes to raise enough funds to purchase and install a rock barrier similar to what other homeowners nearby have built, and claim it has saved their properties.

Bennett Hill, the Victorian-era house built in 1881 and known as a landmark to island residents and visitors, is located just off Plum Island Center and is often the first house seen by those who enter the beach from Plum Island Center. The yellow house with brown trim sits prominently atop one of the highest sand dune peaks on the island.

The dune has taken a steady pounding over the past few years, and last week’s storm tore away so much sand the house now sits on the very edge of the tall dune.

Pugh said the fundraiser is expected to take place Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Plum Island Boulevard restaurant during business hours, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pugh said the fundraiser will feature raffles from items donated by residents and local and area businesses. Among the items already donated is a pair of tickets to Saturday’s New England Patriots playoff game at Gillette Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. The opening bid for the prime location tickets is $600. During the 12-hour fundraiser, 20 percent of all sales will be donated to an account recently established at the Newburyport Five Cents Bank “Save Bennett Hill & Neighbors.” Separate donations can be made to the funds by visiting any of the bank’s locations.

The house has been owned by the Bennett family since 1910 when George Bennett purchased the building before buying the land in 1921. Since then three generations of Bennetts have spent many of their summers inside the house, all along keeping the house as close to its original state as possible.

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