, Newburyport, MA

September 14, 2013

Effort afoot to fix broken flagpole

By John Macone

---- — NEWBURYPORT -- Barely a day after the broken remnants of one of the city’s landmark flagpoles crashed to the ground, volunteers are rallying to fix it.

The flagpole, located at the eastern end of Bartlet Mall, snapped in half on Wednesday night as brisk winds buffeted the city. The 40-foot flagstaff has been withstanding all that Mother Nature could throw at it for the past 77 years, but rot had taken its toll on the red pine wood that made up its structure.

Alan Frost, general foreman of the city’s Department of Public Services, retrieved the broken pieces and is storing them. He’s hoping that the pole can be rebuilt to its former glory, perhaps with volunteer help if necessary.

“The top of the pole itself is gone, it broke in half,” he said, adding that the finial -- a decorative brass piece that tops the pole — was also broken and crushed.

Frost has been contacting Newburyporters in hopes of finding skilled volunteers who can rebuild it. It has some characteristics that might make the job a challenge. The flagpole had a distinctive, ship mast-like appearance, fitting for a place that is known as the Clipper City.

Ghlee Woodworth, a local historian who has been involved with researching the flagpole’s history, said the city has been looking into whether insurance will cover the damage.

“It’s on hold until they find out about the insurance,” she said.

Frost hopes whatever happens, the flagpole will be restored, and perhaps made even more sturdy.

“It’s been there for years and years. I’d hate to see it forgotten,” he said.