NEWBURYPORT – Fans of aviation, architecture and the city’s rich history have a lot to choose from this weekend, with a full schedule of heritage tours and talks as Yankee Homecoming gets underway. Tours and events are free unless noted otherwise.
For starters, visitors can take self-guided strolls through Newburyport’s neighborhoods to read scores of posters and displays put up for “If This House Could Talk.” Go for a walk anytime from today, July 27, through Sunday, August 4.
Newburyport historian and author Ghlee Woodworth has lined up a full schedule of event, including:
Saturday, July 27 and Saturday, August 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Can You Find Us – Oak Hill Cemetery Scavenger Hunt at Brown and State Streets. More than 50 gravesites will be labeled, including those of ministers, benefactors, sea captains (including Francis B. Todd who was buried in a rum barrel), artists, and the burial site of Anna Jaques, the benefactor of the local hospital. Scavenger hunters should stop at the Ellen T. Brown Chapel for a list of names and bring a pen or pencil. This activity is geared for families and children. There also will be a free drawing to win Woodworth’s award-winning book Tiptoe Through the Tombstones, Oak Hill Cemetery.
Saturday, July 27 through Saturday, August 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Merrimack Valley Ship Model Club Exhibition in the Unitarian Universalist Church, Lower Level, 28 Pleasant St. Club members will be at the exhibit demonstrating modeling techniques and sharing background stories about the models on display.
The Museum of Old Newbury, 98 High St., offers free tours each day during Yankee Homecoming, telling the stories of local people from the past. For information and hours: email@example.com or call 978-462-2681.
Today, July 27, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., visitors can learn about the lives of Newburyport’s French Canadiens in Jean Foley Doyle’s latest documentary film, at the People’s United Methodist Church on Purchase Street in the South End.
Also today, July 27, from 1 to 3 p.m., there will be free tours of Powder House Park and Learning Center, 57 Low St. (across from Nock/Molin Schools). Visitors can learn about the newly restored Powder House built in 1822 on Godfrey’s Hill. Members of the Acton Minutemen will be there to talk about the importance of the early militias in all the towns of the Mass Bay Colony, and to demonstrate the use and firing of the flintlock musket, and various marching maneuvers from the Revolution.
Newburyport’s shipbuilding and shipyards will be the topic today from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, 6 Plum Island Turnpike. Ghlee Woodworth will take visitors on a visual tour of shipbuilding and shipyards from Joppa to upper Merrimac Street. From the 1700s to the mid-1800s, Newburyport rivaled Salem and Boston in shipbuilding.
Events on Sunday, July 28, include:
From 10 to 11 a.m., the program Essex County: New England’s Cradle of Aviation, will be presented at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Ted Russell will talk about New England’s first flying field on The Great Marsh in Newbury, and the intrepid pilots who perfected their aircraft and skills in the spring and summer of 1910. Hear about how the 1910 flights in Newbury gave birth to the North Shore as a prominent center of early aviation, and about the history of the current Plum Island Airport that dates from 1933. Visitors can tour the Burgess Aviation Museum at the Plum Island Airport, 24 Plum Island Turnpike, Newbury.
From 10 a.m. to noon, visitors can see the 1805 Charles Bullfinch-designed Superior Courthouse at the Bartlet Mall. This program is presented by Essex County Clerk of Courts Tom Driscoll and the Greater Newburyport Bar Association.
From noon to 1 p.m, visitors can tour the Old South Church Tour, 29 Federal St., learning the history by viewing Paul Revere’s bell in the tower, spittoons in the sanctuary, and the crypt where a forgotten “Founding Father” is buried under the pulpit. Meet at the Federal Street front doors for this tour.
And on Sunday, July 28 from 2:30 to 4 p.m., and Tuesday, July 30, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Clipper Heritage Trail’s “Along the Water’s Edge” Waterfront Harbor Tour will take place, starting at the boardwalk near the Black Cow restaurant. Tickets go fast so anyone interested should make reservations online at www.harbortours.com. Ghlee Woodworth and marine ecologist Captain Paul Aziz will take visitors aboard the Yankee Clipper for a 90-minute cruise along the Merrimack River. Travelers will step back in time and hear about shipyards, Caldwell’s Rum, and a castle as the cruise goes upriver to Amesbury. On the return leg, the Yankee Clipper goes along the shores of Joppa, home of clammers, fishermen, and hunters.