Newburyport Artisan Village

A Pilot Project Initiative



By John W. Brown – Artisans Revival Coordinator

I. Creating an Arts and Cultural Foundation of Working Artist

II. Economic Impact on Newburyport

III. Ecological Impact from Merchant Community Gardens

IV. Historic Significance; The Revival of Mechanics Row



I.  Creating an Arts/Cultural "Center" of Working Artist

     The ultimate goal is multifaceted 

  • Provide affordable space in prime retail areas for local artisans to produce and sell their goods.

  • Revenue received from artisan chalet rentals on a daily or weekly basis, will then be regenerated into Restoration of the courtyards, tree beds and expanded gardens.

  • Stimulate and contribute to downtown shopping economics by drawing traffic and creating an arts & cultural destination point for tourist as well as the local community


     Newburyport has been in dire need of a ‘foundation’, an ‘artisans market place’, to define its working artist that make up the co creative community of Newburyport. 

In late 2013, Newburyport became the 19th community in the Commonwealth to receive a “Cultural Designation”. The Artisans Revival is not just proposing an Artisans Village. The Artisans Revival is a movement to reconnect “the spirit, soul and lifestyle of the 'true working artist' to that of the community, its culture, and history. It is a significant part of the foundation for a 'Cultural District' built on local, co-creative small business, sustainable economics, and ecology”. 


 By better utilizing the areas of Inn Street and its courtyards, the city can achieve its goal of providing local artisan space{City Master Plan of 2017} by integrating its artist village project in the heart of the Downtown Overlay District.


Salem has its Artist Row. 

Rockport has its' Bearskin Neck.

Gloucester has its' Art Colony.

Newburyport can have its' Artisan Village.


II.  Economic Impact on Newburyport

   Over the past three years, beginning with its creation during Yankee Homecoming in 2016, the Inn Street Artisans Revival has demonstrated the viability of an ‘arts’ based, co creative, economic contributions to the brick and mortar retailers of the surrounding areas by conducting local art based shows and distinguishing between a more commercial and corporate sponsored festivals by declaring ‘commercial free zones’ on Inn Street. This is the foundation for an Inn Street Artisan Market.

    The cities festivals, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, have become synonymous with ‘commercial vending’ to the point in which retail outlets no longer see the benefits of an art based culture demographic. By doing so, we have deterred a vast number of visitors to the area that have come to see and expect such over the years.

    82% of Americans believe arts & culture are important to local businesses and the economy. 87% of Americans believe arts & culture are important to quality of life.*

* Source: Americans for the Arts 2016 survey of 3,020 adults by Ipsos Public Affairs

AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS ; Established in 1960, is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Arts businesses are rooted locally— supporting jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. Arts & Economic Prosperity sends an important message to community leaders: Support for the arts is an investment in economic well-being and quality of life. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business!


    More locally, we have the Essex County Community Foundation; 

The Creative County Initiative (CCI) mobilizes our region's artists, arts organizations and community and business leaders to collectively enhance the quality of life in Essex County. Our vision is to increase the visibility and impact of the transformative power of arts and culture. 


By doing this, we can:

  • Create a regional voice for arts and culture in Essex County. 
  • Transform our cities and towns by promoting the importance of arts and culture in community development. 
  •  Increase arts and cultural experiences that celebrate diversity, bring about social equity and ensure inclusion for all in the arts. 
  •  Support artists and the creative economy.
  • Elevate Essex County as a vibrant, creative place to live and work. 


III. Ecological Impact of Inn Street; Merchant Community Garden


    The Inn Street Artisan Market Proposal allows Newburyport the opportunity of designing and incorporating an Artisan Merchant Sponsored Community Garden by restoring its tree beds and expanding them into garden beds, based on the principles of Permaculture. Rain barrels could also be incorporated into the tiny studio structures. 

This principle of gardening and greening could serve as an "urban model" for transforming a “brick and cement backdrop” (Palette) Inn Street into a garden like recreational/educational, and experiential area, designed to demonstrate the vital link between local sustainable ecology and local, co-creative arts based/culture economy.


    By taking advantage of the layout, the area can be transformed into a garden like recreational area, designed to provide additional benches for sitting, creating a relaxed atmosphere within the market area itself. 

  This vision of the Inn Street Artisan market has an opportunity to serve, expand and demonstrate as an alternative educational model for future movements to other urban city settings dedicated to a regional movement of sustainable communities invested in the arts, a local economy, and cultural engagement.


IV. Historic Significance; The Restoration of Mechanics Row

    As far back as the early 1700’s master craftsmen, cobblers, and the like, began operating and creating apprenticeships outside their own houses by building small dwellings as amendments to their homes. These small dwellings began to congregate on places like Mechanics Row and the Newburyport waterfront. This was the beginning of one of the greatest local industries that proliferated out of the entire New England region, the shoe industry.


    On the eve of May 31st, 1811, a fire broke out in Newburyport in an ‘unoccupied horses stable” on ‘Mechanics Row”, which we now know as Inn Street. The fire wiped out over 16 acres and 250 buildings downtown, including all of Mechanics Row. At the time of the early 1800’s the term “Mechanics’ did not refer to automobiles or motor engines. Its referred to artisans, merchants, general laborers, or more specifically ‘architectural engineers”. 


    After the fire and due to the Brick Acts of 1811 and 1812 that stated, any building constructed over ten feet high needed to be made of brick and clay. These ‘small dwellings' congregated downtown, on the waterfront, and  began to proliferate up the river and beyond, was then on to become known as ‘ten footers’.


    The Artisans Revival began three years ago to revive the local artisan and restore its role in a local co creative economy, at a time when surrounding developer business models do not support small business. 

   Commercial and corporate sponsorship have replaced local art based culture oriented festivals. The local art scene that was once so prevalent in Newburyport has all but disappeared.

   By collaborating and integrating both a downtown and waterfront artisan program, the Newburyport Artisan Village could return to its inherent destiny and restore Mechanics Row literally from the ashes of over two hundred years of Newburyport’s history, and its major contributions to some of the most prominent industries of the country leading up to the Industrial Revolution.


    This restoration project has the economic and cultural Trans-formative impact to not only rival the first urban restoration project of the 60’s and seventies, but in many ways, completes it. 


    The first federal urban restoration project that began in 1976 may have restored the buildings, but the Newburyport Artisan Village and the Restoration of Mechanics Row restores the spirit, soul, and lifestyle of the earliest artisans, merchants and craftsmen, the origins of which built a new nation.


“America is the house of the individual soul and that soul is creative.

That soul is an artist of reality."

 Dawn of a new day

Jon Rappaport

Learn More


Coming Soon; The Story of the Ten Footers

How the  Newburyport Artisan Village

'tiny studios' complete the 'Newburyport Restoration'.

The Crusade for a National Urban Model 

Begins Here; Introductory Video

Newburyport Artisan Market - A Pilot Project Initiative has been created though the generosity of private investments, loans, as well as revenue raised by the artisans themselves via donation fees of  Chalets rentals.

We need your help…

Without any city or grant funding, 

and based only on private contributions, loans and individual donations, we have put  forth the best product and program possible in this short span of time.

With your help we can take it to another level. This is an ongoing experimental project aimed at community based financing and involvement.