Newburyport - A Destination for History

City of Newburyport History – a Timeline

Located on the south bank of the Merrimack River before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean, Greater Newburyport MA was originally inhabited by the Pawtucket Indians. Later, in the 1630’s, European immigrants settled here, founding the city of Newbury MA. The small port of Newbury quickly became a popular fishing and trading center, with the rest of Newbury turning to agricultural pursuits. By 1764, the port was so prosperous and densely settled that it broke off from Newbury to become the city of Newburyport.. Maritime trade fueled the city’s economy, sparking extraordinary building activity in the decades following.

Newburyport thrives today thanks to an inspiring history of ship builders, merchants, and industrialists. But it took a village and an historic movement to save our amazing backdrop.

Visitors who travel to Greater Newburyport with a curiosity for its history and culture are greeted with much to discover and enjoy. If you relish in studying historic documents, visiting historic sites, and seeing historic architecture, there are plenty of things to do in the Newburyport area.

Historical Places to Visit

The Coffin House


14 High Road, Newbury MA 01951 978-462-2634 Occupied by the Coffin family over three centuries, reveals insights into domestic life in rural New England.

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm


5 Little’s Lane, Newbury MA 01951 978-462-2634 A family-friendly National Historic Landmark with activities for all ages. The 230-acre site includes a 1690 manor house that served as the country seat of wealthy Newburyport merchants and an attached farmhouse that was home to a Lithuanian family for most of the twentieth century.

Swett-Ilsley House


4 High Road, Newbury MA 01951 978-462-2634 The Swett-Ilsley House is an important early structure built in 1670 by Stephen Swett, one of the first settlers. Over the centuries, the building served as a tavern, chocolate shop, chandlery, and press room.

Rocky Hill Meeting House


4 Portsmouth Road, Amesbury MA 01913 978-462-2634 One of the best preserved examples of an original eighteenth-century meeting house interior. It was built in 1785, replacing a c. 1715 meeting house for the West Parish of Salisbury. The Rocky Hill Meeting House was strategically placed along the only road that crossed the swift Powow River…

Dole-Little House


289 High Road, Newbury MA 01950 978-462-2634 Built around 1715 with materials salvaged from an earlier structure. Its first owner was Richard Dole, a cattleman, who built a two-room, central-chimney house with a small kitchen shed at the rear.

Newburyport Harbor Light


Plum Island Point, Newburyport, Newburyport MA 01950 978-462-9802 Newburyport was an important port in the late 1700s, but the entrance to Newburyport’s harbor was dangerous due to the shifting currents at the mouth of the Merrimack River. To aid ships entering the river, two wooden lighthouses (one of which is now known as Newburyport Harbor…