To the editor:
The Newburyport Preservation Trust strongly supports the adaptive reuse of the former Davis Electric building at 40 Merrimac St. and commends the new owner’s efforts to make it into the Merrimac Ale House. Such reuse can transform this empty but beautiful historic building into a useful property enjoyed by many for generations to come.
We are aware of the concerns raised by both the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) and our local Newburyport Historical Commission as outlined in the July 24 issue of The Daily News. It is indeed a clarion call in our experience for MHC to have taken such clear and unequivocal positions with regard to the “hulking size of the proposed new construction” and its adverse impact on the historic building to which it will be attached. Other important negative impact concerns are noted as well, including blockage of the view from Green Street, the use of incompatible materials and inadequate setback from the existing building.
Surely all parties concerned about moving this project forward can find a way to minimize the adverse impact on this important piece of Newburyport’s history and we can have an Ale House for all to enjoy without overwhelming the original building. A scaled-down plan should enhance the original historic building and contribute to Newburyport’s downtown. The Newburyport Preservation Trust urges a further review of the proposed addition with close attention paid to the legitimate concerns raised by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and our local Newburyport Historical Commission.
Reuse of this early 19th century building can be a marvelous addition to downtown Newburyport with some careful design changes. Everyone involved can feel proud of its new-found life as an Ale House with respect paid to its history. We look forward to visiting upon its successful completion.
Thomas Kolterjahn, Co-President
Linda Miller, Co-President
Newburyport Preservation Trust