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Local Character

Above: The Short House is one of five seventeenth-century dwellings located near Newbury's Upper Green. SPNEA's William Sumner Appleton approached the owners about ways to preserve the property as early as 1917.


Below: Seddon Tavern, a careful twentieth-century reconstruction of an earlier structure, evokes the memory of village life at the Newbury Lower green. SPNEA's preservation easements protect the materials, overall massing, and scale.

Near the center of many New England towns lies the common or green. Often located close to a public meeting structure, the common provided an area for outdoor assemblies, militia exercises, and collecting livestock for herding to more distant common pastures. The town of Newbury, Massachusetts, boasts two commons, the Upper and Lower Greens, each surrounded by historic structures. In each location, the settings have evolved over time as assorted vernacular buildings were placed in the landscape; today the historic ambience of the townscape gives the community a sense of place.

The c.1732 Short House, which anchors one corner of the Upper Green, has long been admired for its unusual architectural features: two brick end walls punctured with small gable-end casements and a boldly carved pediment at the center entry. Although the interior was once divided into two halves to house different families, the exterior has undergone little alteration in nearly three hundred years. Pictured in numerous publications throughout the twentieth-century, the Short House is one of Newbury's most familiar architectural icons.

Several miles to the south, the Seddon Tavern overlooks Newbury's Lower Green. Not an original building but a meticulous reconstruction of the c.1728 tavern destroyed by fire in 1940, it reflects a mid twentieth-century antiquarian understanding of eighteenth-century architecture.

Through its Stewardship Program, SPNEA holds preservation easements that protect the appearance and historic building elements of these two privately owned houses. Working with the owners of the two buildings, SPNEA provides guidance and a discreet presence that promotes preservation within the community. While the Short House and Seddon Tavern differ in age and design, SPNEA's easements on these two familiar buildings help ensure that Newbury's important community assets-the Upper and Lower Greens-remain unchanged for future generations of residents and visitors to pass by and enjoy.

-Shantia Anderheggen, Director of Stewardship

Local Character