NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Port in Progress

May 18, 2007

Meet Inn Street's pioneers

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NEWBURYPORT | They viewed Inn Street as an opportunity, at a time when no one else really did.

As a result, the five men who developed the block | tucked away behind State and Pleasant streets | helped to spur development throughout downtown.

More than 35 years later, four of the five still owns his piece of history, and one still works from his Inn Street office.

Each of them | Dick Sullivan, Jonathan Woodman, Swift Barnes, Chris Snow and Michael Rowan | bought buildings on lower Inn Street in the early 1970s as part of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority's urban renewal plan. They were the only people interested in buying the lots at the time, and they developed a shared sense of responsibility to help rejuvenate downtown Newburyport.

They were able to transform a run-down section of downtown into a thriving retail center.

Each moved to the street for a different reason. These are their stories | and that of Claudia Harris, who as the owner of the Elephant's Trunk remains the only original tenant.



Downtown showroom

In 1948, after returning from duty in the Pacific during World War II, Swift Barnes wanted to move east | and he found Newburyport.

"I wanted to live in a small New England town," Barnes, 87, said from the basement of the building he owns on Inn Street. "I loved it from the minute I moved into town."

Barnes went to work for Towle Silver Company, then the largest employer in the city, where he stayed for six years as a silver maker. He made a temporary move to Canada, but quickly was back in Newburyport to open his own store, Old Newbury Crafters.

There, at a shop on Merrimac Street, he made silverware and jewelry that he sold to major retailers like Tiffany and Co. and Cartier. Eventually he wanted more exposure and in the early 1970s the opportunity to buy a building downtown on Inn Street presented itself.

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