Thursday, August 9, 2012

Haverhill's Costly Mistake

From 1985-1994, I lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts - a town rich in history and ties to historical figures going back to our country’s beginning.  When John Adams served as Ambassador to England with his wife accompanying him, two of their children were sent to live with a relative in Haverhill.  President Washington visited there in 1889.  Later the town became the home of John Greenleaf Whittier.   

Haverhill had many ups and downs, none more down than the 1950s and ‘60s, when under the guise of “modernization” much of the city’s Federalist and Victorian architecture was demolished.  The most egregious example of this was a group of buildings on Merrimack Street: torn down and replaced with…a parking garage.  As a result, that section of town is almost now entirely devoid of charm – the corner of Merrimack and Main Streets is blighted with a store front that has been empty for more than four decades. 

Walk a few thousand feet west and Merrimack Street becomes Washington Street, paralleled with Wingate Street.  Here, there are rows of buildings constructed between 1882-1912 as shoe factories – fortunately never demolished, and now renovated into beautiful apartments and condominiums with vibrant retail and restaurants on the ground level. 

New is not always Better.  Let us not repeat Haverhill's mistake in South Euclid.

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