On May 19, 1934, an arsonist caused the second largest fire in Newburyport history, destroying buildings along several blocks of Merrimack St., including a few adjoining houses from Winter to Titcomb Street.
Something even more devastating was already happening. Initiated in 1930, the Route One bypass destroyed dozens of private homes to create a bypass of High and State Streets. Only a handful of homes were moved to new locations. Bulldozers razed the remaining houses on the east side of Winter St. and the west side of Summer St., creating a gigantic trench known as the Rt. 1. Cut-off. The neighborhood had managed to mostly escape the wraths of the 1934 fire and the larger conflagration of 1811, but with the automotive age well under way, the ancient neighborhood was demolished to make way for Boston drivers bypassing Newburyport for vacations in New Hampshire.
As part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), architects and photographers throughout the country were put to work recording the nation’s heritage. Arthur C. Haskell photographed several of the doomed houses in the Newburyport Cut-off before they were demolished. Visit the Library of Congress site to view 220 Newburyport images and architectural drawings from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).