Newburyport cutoff Rt. 1

The Newburyport Cut-off

May 19, 1934 fire in Newburyport MA
May 19, 1934: A large fire destroyed buildings along Merrimack St.
1851 map courtesy of Mary Baker

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.

Steam locomotive entering Newburyport, early 20th Century
Winter Street had already been cut off from Spring St. when the railway came to Newburyport in the 1840s. Only 6 houses predating the 1934 construction of the Rt. 1 bypass remain standing on Winter St,

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).

1890 Birdseye map of Newburyport, MA
Section of the 1894 Birdseye map of Newburyport, MA, showing houses on Winter, Summer and Birch Streets that were demolished to make way for Rt. 1. The railroad had already carved a slice out of the west side of Winter Street when it came to Newburyport in the 1840s.
Rt. 1 Highway Cut-off Demolition Area, Newburyport, MA 1934
Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. Dec. 1934. After- view of Summer St. looking south from between Washington and Birch Streets. – Highway Cut-off Demolition Area, Newburyport, Essex County, MA
 Summer St. looking south from between Washington and Birch Streets. (Stockman House) Demolished for Highway Cut-off Demolition Area
Demolished. – Summer St. looking south from between Washington and Birch Streets. (Stockman House) Demolished for Highway Cut-off Demolition Area. Image from Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer April, 1934.
Newburyport Highway Cut-off Demolition Area. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer, April, 1934
Demolished.View westerly from Summer St. between Washington and Birch Sts. – Highway Cut-off Demolition Area. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer, April, 1934
 Looking south along Summer St. from corner of Washington St - Highway Cut-off Demolition Area, Historic American Buildings Survey
Demolished.View looking south along Summer St. from corner of Washington St – Highway Cut-off Demolition Area, Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer April, 1934.
 Highway Cut-off Demolition Area, Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. April, 1934
Demolished.Corner Birch and Summer Sts. looking Northwest. – Highway Cut-off Demolition Area, Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. April, 1934
Looking south along Summer St. from Merrimack St. - Highway Cut-off Demolition Area. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. April, 1934
Demolished.Looking south along Summer St. from Merrimack St. – Highway Cut-off Demolition Area. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. April, 1934
Stockman House, 5 Birch Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey
Demolished.Stockman House, 5 Birch Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
 Stockman House, 5 Birch Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Demolished.View from Southeast, Stockman House, 5 Birch Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Regan House, 7 Birch Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey  of Newburyport
Demolished.View from Northeast. – Regan House, 7 Birch Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. June, 1934.
Hennessey House, 2 Summer Street, Newburyport.
Demolished.Hennessey House, 2 Summer Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer June, 1934
Stonecutting Shop, 2 Summer Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey,
Demolished.Stonecutting Shop, 2 Summer Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Marden House, 32 Summer Street, Newburyport.
Demolished.Marden House, 32 Summer Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Marden House, 32 Summer Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey
Demolished.View from Northeast. – Marden House, 32 Summer Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Thurlow House, 43 Winter Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey,
Demolished.Thurlow House, 43 Winter Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Charles Stockman House, 31-33 Winter Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey,
Demolished.Charles Stockman House, 31-33 Winter Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Charles Stockman House, 31-33 Winter Street, Newburyport,  Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey,
Demolished.Detail, rear, from southeast. – Charles Stockman House, 31-33 Winter Street, Newburyport, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Thurlow House, 43 Winter Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey,
Demolished.Rear view from Northwest. – Thurlow House, 43 Winter Street, Newburyport. Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur C. Haskell, Photographer. 1934
Newburyport turnpike, 1940
Since the Rt. 1 cut-off was completed, drivers can speed through the sliced-apart Newburyport neighborhood without knowing it ever existed. Photo circa 1940
newburyport_downtown_postcard

2 thoughts on “The Newburyport Cut-off”

  1. Having lived in Newburyport I was well aware of what happened here but this is by far the most complete and dramatic reminder I have seen. This collection of houses that are gone is both stunning, sad and thought provoking. Thank you for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Route 1 demolition legacy continues: not all the homes were demolished then; some were moved and then demolished- up to current day. Like the “Canepa House” (2nd home on right in the photo entitled “View looking south along Summer St. from corner of Washington St “). It was demolished in 2015. Ahhhh…but we’ve grown smarter since the thirties. Instead of speeding cars past Newburyport, we’ve decided it’s best they stop, stay, and shop. The Canepa House was torn down for the brand new Newburyport parking garage. Progress. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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