NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 13, 2013

City plans to fix historic flagpole

NEWBURYPORT — City officials are studying the severe damage to a historic flagpole at the Bartlet Mall, and are considering plans for replacement.

High winds Wednesday night caused a pole at the east end of the mall to break “at the yardarm,” said Peter Lombardi, director of policy and administration at City Hall.

“We’re checking into insurance issues and how it can be repaired or replaced,” Lombardi said yesterday.

He noted that another flagpole on the Mall is owned by those who manage the Superior Court building nearby. The judicial pole was not damaged.

The flagpole that snapped has been a fixture at the east end of the Mall for decades. It’s located near the junction of High and Pond streets, close to the statue of George Washington. It’s about 40 feet tall.

Local historian Joe Callahan, aided by author Ghlee Woodworth, speculate that the damaged pole was erected about 1936. It may have been paid for by the Newburyport Improvement Society, the historians say. It replaced a flagpole that had been erected in 1926, which in turn replaced a 1897 flagpole that had blown down in 1925.

Lombardi suggested that the pole had been weakened by the elements over the years, and it was unable to withstand the heavy winds two nights ago.

City officials are scheduled to meet with members of the Bartlet Mall Commission next week and the matter will be discussed then, City Hall officials say.

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