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
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…
Old South Church, First Presbyterian
29 Federal Street, Newburyport MA 01950 978-465-9666 Old South Church was built in 1756 and is one of the oldest wood frame churches in continuing use in New England. Its bell was made by Paul Revere, and its steeple guided ships to safe harbor in Newburyport. Built for the Rev. George Whitefield, a prime mover…
Custom House Maritime Museum
25 Water Street, Newburyport MA 01950 978-462-8681 Your Gateway to Maritime History in the Merrimack Valley. Discover the abundant and interesting maritime heritage of Newburyport, MA and the Merrimack River Valley. A unique collection of maritime art, model clipper ships, displays of famous shipwrecks, the history of the Coast Guard, and more.
John Greenleaf Whittier Home and Museum
85 Friend Street, Amesbury MA 01913 978-388-8888 Located at the home where John Greenleaf Whittier lived from 1836 until his death in 1892. As a committed abolitionist, faithful Quaker, creative thinker, environmentalist and freedom lover, he published poetry most of his life and is famed for his poem “Snowbound”.
The Cushing House
98 High Street, Newburyport MA 01950 978-462-2681 The Cushing House, a brick, Federal mansion houses the Museum of Old Newbury’s headquarters and was built in 1808 for Captain William Hunt.