Many of them didn’t know her, but yesterday afternoon almost 100 people gathered at the former home of Florence Evans Bushee on 21 Norman Way in Newbury to pay their respects 38 years after her death.
They came bearing flowers and signs of thanks for the hundreds of acres of land the feisty, good-humored Bushee donated to the Trustees of Reservations to make Old Town Hill a public park, for the countless times she stepped in to pay for something the town couldn’t afford and for the early financial contributions she made to the city of Newburyport that staved off the wrecking ball and funded key initiatives to get plans for the downtown moving.
And they also came to express a quiet note of apology that despite all she did to save historic spaces all around her for the benefit of generations to come, her own historic home and barn was bulldozed to the ground last week with no one to stand in the way.
“We really wanted to celebrate this woman,” said Adele Pollis. “Florence Bushee was an amazing woman.”
People from Newbury and Newburyport turned up at the memorial, organized by members of Save the Lower Green Committee, to express sadness over the hasty demolition of Bushee’s old home by Barry Coscia, trustee of Bushee Real Estate Trust, which purchased the property from Dr. Sadru Hemani and his wife on Dec. 21.
They stood in the frigid cold next to the only piece of Bushee’s estate left standing — the barn where she kept her beloved show horses, where yesterday her ribbons and trophies still adorned the walls even as the stalls where her prized horses Desert Rose and Flowing Gold once rested have long been empty.
The home, now reduced to a small pile of rubble at the rear of the property, was blocked off to the public yesterday with yellow police tape. Two uniformed officers from the town of Newbury issued a stern warning to those who made the trek to the Lower Green not to trespass on the new owner’s property.