NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 28, 2014

Barrier in place for PI landmark

More fundraisers planned for Bennett Hill cottage

PLUM ISLAND — Shoring efforts around the iconic Bennett Hill House were completed over the weekend, leaving the 19th-century landmark with a massive rock barrier between the house and the ocean 25 feet below.

Yesterday, however, work continued, as earth movers placed more rocks in front of its next-door residence located adjacent to Plum Island Center.

The barrier represents what was likely the last and best chance to save the house, part of the Bennett family since 1910, from experiencing the same fate as six other houses that fell into the ocean last March after a series of storms eroded enough beach to rip them away.

Using a private parking lot across Plum island Center as a staging area, work crews from Jamco Excavators of South Hampton began hauling large boulders onto the beach area Jan. 17 and dumping them in front of the house sitting precariously close to the edge of a 25-foot-tall dune.

Work was temporarily halted Wednesday as a result of a swift-moving winter storm that pummeled the beach with strong winds, but didn’t bring the same kind of high tides as last March’s storm. Bennett Hill caretaker John Bennett said the storm changed the shape of the beach below his house, but it wasn’t strong enough to reach what was left of the dune.

With Bennett Hill now buffeted by hundreds of rocks, work crews yesterday focused their attention next door. The loud crunching sound of boulders being dumped onto the beach and then scooped by a massive earth mover could be heard hundreds of yards away. Onlookers stood and watched as the machines performed their tasks.

The money to pay for the massive endeavor came from many sources, according to a Jamco Excavators foreman, including neighbors who stepped up to help the Bennett family keep their house.

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