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Moses BrownGreen Street Baptist Church5 Brown Square7 Brown Square
Garrison InnNorth ChurchWilliam Lloyd GarrisonCharles R. Sargent
Butler’s BakeryMrs. Francis’s RestaurantCity HallWar Memorials

Moses Brown

Portrait of Moses Brown. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

Moses Brown (1742-1827) is the namesake of Brown Square, established by 1803. The historian John J. Currier wrote a vivid description of Mr. Brown: "In personal appearance Moses Brown was of medium height, with a thin, spare figure and a strong and vigorous constitution. He was modest and unassuming in manner, seeking neither public applause nor official honors. He pursued business as though the gains therefrom were not for his use alone, and he distributed them as a trust for the good of others. The law of rectitude was in his heart, and balances of equity in his hand. In his family and personal relations he was kind and affectionate, and his purity of life and character secured for him the honor and respect of his fellow townsman."

Mr. Brown was a descendant of one of the first settlers of Newbury, Thomas Browne, and was the son of Francis and Mary Brown. Mr. Brown married his first wife, Mary Hall, in 1772; she passed away just six years later. He and his second wife, Mary White, had one child, Sarah White, who married William B. Bannister, a well-know Newburyport benefactor.

Read more about Moses Brown on the interpretive panel opposite the Garrison Inn.

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Green Street Baptist Church

In 1804 the first Baptist Church was founded, and a small group led by Reverend John Peak met in Newburyport’s south end neighborhood, Joppa, in a small schoolhouse on Marlboro Street. Its first brick meetinghouse was destroyed in the Great Newburyport Fire of 1811, and soon after $4,000 was collected to build a new church on Congress Street near Kent and Washington Streets. During the period of construction, the Baptists met at the Court House on Bartlet Mall. Philosophical disagreements soon followed, and a few of the parishioners left to form the Green Street Baptist Church; that structure was designed by local architect Frederick J. Coffin. In 1869 the Congress Street Church merged with the Green Street Baptist Church and was renamed the Central Baptist Society of Newburyport. Before being razed the Congress Street building was used as a box factory owned by Orrin J. Gurney, mayor of Newburyport in 1892 and 1895. The Green Street Church was demolished and then rebuilt to include a steeple that was removed in the 1940s. By 1900, over 200 families attended the Baptist Church.

View of Brown Square looking towards Pleasant Street. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

Sarah Bachman, wife of the late Soloman Bachman, a businessman and benefactor, and her daughter, Mrs. Meyer Bernheimer (spelled "Burnhome" on her gravestone) donated a beautiful stained-glass memorial window to the Baptist Society that is now located in the Hope Community Center on Hale Street. The Baptist community moved to this new inter-denominational church in the 1990s. The late distinguished businessman and benefactor Edward Molin purchased the church and converted it to a restaurant and function space.

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5 Brown Square

Directly behind the Green Street Baptist Church is a modified Greek Revival-Italianate house at 5 Brown Square that was built c.1853. Mr. Charles Hesseltine of Weston, Virginia, his wife Mary, from Stafford, New Hampshire, and family were in residence from 1854 to 1872. Mr. Hesseltine was listed in the City Directory as a dry-goods owner at 25 Pleasant Street. Mrs. Hessletine passed away in 1862, and Mr. Hesseltine died in 1872.

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7 Brown Square

To the left of Garrison Inn, at 7 Brown Square, is a house built c.1854, a modified Greek Revival-Italianate structure. According to the City Directories, Mr. Prescott Spaulding, born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was a merchant who lived here with his wife Hannah T. and their children for over twenty years. Mrs. Spaulding died in 1855, and Mr. Spaulding passed away at age 84 in 1864. Their son Prescott, a master mariner, died at the age of 68 in 1875.

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Garrison Inn

Brown Square Hotel (1905 Post card published by the Rotograph Company). Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

The Great Fire of 1811 destroyed downtown Newburyport and the War of 1812 devastated the Newburyport business community. Moses Brown’s plans to construct a row of brick buildings and homes along the southwesterly side of Brown Square ended with just one large brick structure going up in 1809. After Mr. Brown’s passing in 1827, the structure passed to his daughter, Mary, who married William B. Banister, a well-known benefactor. A private residence for some years, it had become a boarding house by 1849. In 1884 Elisha P. Pride leased the property and converted it into a small hotel known for many years as the Brown Square Hotel. In 1885, a group of boat enthusiasts met at the hotel and formed the American Yacht Club, electing Mr. Pride, also a boat builder, as their first commodore. Since 1923, the hotel has been known as the Garrison Inn.

Advertisement in the City Directory, 1894-95. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

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North Church

North Church on the west side of Brown Square. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

In 1768 Mr. Enoch Titcomb sold some of his land on which the first of three meetinghouses, the Second Congregational Society building, later known as the North Church, was erected. The North Church began when a group of parishioners left the First Congregational Society, now known as the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist, to follow Reverend Christopher Marsh. The new wooden meetinghouse with a bell and tower was built on the corner of Titcomb and Pleasant Streets facing the Merrimack River. This meetinghouse was razed in 1827 due to decay, and a new brick church was completed facing Brown Square.

Portrait of Reverend Luther Dimmick. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury.

On March 22, 1861, just after midnight, the North Church was engulfed in flames. Due to a heavy snowstorm the day before, it took considerable time for residents to sound the fire alarms – various church bells and mill whistles in those days. Except for the front and side brick outer shell, the church was destroyed, including the bell in the tower that had been cast in London by John Warner in 1795 and sold to the church by Paul Revere. The remains of the melted bell were made into small “tea bells” that were sold by the ladies of the meetinghouse to help raise money for a new church. The 1785 steeple clock built by Simon Willard was also destroyed. The parishioners wasted no time in rebuilding, and a new church was completed by October of the same year by Albert Currier, a member of the congregation. Mr. Currier was a respected builder who also constructed City Hall on Pleasant Street. The new steeple clock, known as “Old Betsy,” was a gift of Elizabeth Gerrish, who said that she could read the time from her Ring’s Island home in Salisbury, Massachusetts. Today the antique clock still keeps time on the beautiful steeple.

In 1909 two other Congregational meetinghouses eventually merged with the North Church, forming the Central Congregational Church: the Fourth Religious Society or Prospect Street Church, located at the corner of Prospect and Temple Streets and later demolished, and the Whitefield Congregational Church on the corner of Prospect and State Streets that moved to a new building on High Street and was recently sold to a private owner.

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William Lloyd Garrison

"Slavery is a monster and he must be treated as such - hunted down bravely; and despatched at a blow."

William Lloyd Garrison,
The Genius of Universal Emancipation
October 9, 1829

Slavery Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), a native of Newburyport, was born on School Street in a house directly behind the Old South Church on Federal Street. At age thirteen the young William was apprenticed to Ephraim Allen, the owner of the Newburyport Herald, and learned the newspaper trade for the next seven years, an experience that helped to shape his life. Mr. Garrison went on to dedicate his life to the freedom of speech and the press, the Abolitionist movement, women’s rights, and social reform for equal rights for all.

Portrait of William Lloyd Garrison. Wikipedia source.

In 1830 Dr. Luther F. Dimmick, (1790-1860) who served forty-one years as pastor of the North Congregational Society, now the Central Congregational Church, invited Mr. Garrison to speak at the North Church. Mr. Garrison had just been released from a Baltimore, Maryland, jail having served seven weeks for libel charges brought by Newburyport ship-owner Francis Todd. Mr. Garrison published an editorial accusing Mr. Todd of slave-trading, which later Captain Nicholas Brown of the ship FrancisMerrimack River is still known corroborated. Accepting Dr. Dimmick'’s invitation, Mr. Garrison addressed a large audience on the subject of slavery, but when it was announced that he would speak again the next evening, there was so much unrest in the community that the doors of the meetinghouse were closed against him. In the Newburyport Herald edition of October 1, 1830, Mr. Garrison complained of the “unkind and uncivil treatment” he had received from his former friends and townsmen. He returned to Boston to work on the first edition of his publication, The Liberator.

The bronze statue of William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) in Brown Square was created by David M. French (1827-1910), born in Newmarket, New Hampshire. He had a studio at 40 Pleasant Street and lived for many years on Washington Street. Mr. French was well-known for his sculptures of John Greenleaf Whittier, Caleb Cushing, Henry Longfellow, and Josiah Little, and he also carved beautiful floral bas-reliefs on gravestones. The installation of the Garrison statue was performed by the local business of J. M. Littlefield & Son, which was also involved in gravestone carving.

In Brown Square, the William Lloyd Garrison statue presented to the city in 1893 by William H. Swasey. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

The Garrison statue was presented to the city on July 4, 1893, by William H. Swasey (1823-1915). Mr. Swasey came to Newburyport in 1840 and four years later formed a partnership with Mr. Sumner and Mr. Currier, merchants on Water Street. He was a well-known benefactor and is remembered for his generous contributions to the Young Women’s Christian Association.

To learn more about William Lloyd Garrison, read the interpretive panels located behind the statue.

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Charles R. Sargent

Advertisement in the City Directory, 1849. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

Charles Redfield Sargent (1813-1883) was born in Candia, New Hampshire, and moved to Newburyport in 1830. He learned the cabinet-maker’s trade at the High Street shop of Abner Toppan, a highly sought-after craftsman, opposite the head of Toppan’s Lane. Mr. Sargent continued in this trade and added the business of gunsmith and machinist - plumbing, piping, bell-hanging, pumps, and machinery for the shipping trade. For many years Mr. Sargent was sealer of weights and measures and inspector of milk and vinegar for Newburyport. Visit City Hall to view the 1850s cabinet and state-approved equipment that Mr. Sargent used as a uniform system for vendors to weigh and measure products such as flour, oats, milk, vegetables, and kerosene.

Mr. Sargent also had great interest in the fire department and was employed to measure and act as umpire at most of the tests (hand-tub musters) for many years. He was one of the oldest Newburyport Odd Fellows, having joined the organization in its first days of establishment. Mr. Sargent’s two sons, Charles H. and Sam E., worked alongside their father in the machine-shop business.

Advertisement in the City Directory, 1871. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

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Butler’s Bakery

Near Charles R. Sargent’s house on Titcomb Street, Charles Butler purchased a bakery from Eben Gunnison in 1813. Since then three more generations, Charles, Joseph W, and Thomas went on to run what became a world-famous enterprise and made their home around the corner across from Brown Square. In 1836, Charles Butler agreed to host the first meeting of the Essex County Anti-Slavery Society in front of his house on Pleasant Street. The meeting was held only a few feet away from where Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison’s statue now stands.

Advertisement in the City Directory, 1854. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

The Butler Bakery’s pilot and ship bread gained a far-reaching reputation for its high quality. Most of the ships that sailed out of the city’s port during the nineteenth century were provisioned with its bakery goods. Its competitor was Pearson’s Bakery located on Water and Merrimac Streets. During the late 1800s, the business employed six people. The bread was made on the ground floor and baked in a huge revolving oven. Although "pilot" and "ship" bread were often referred to interchangeably, in fact ship bread differed in being made without shortening as an ingredient. After baking, the ship bread could keep for an indefinite time on long voyages. In 1887, the bakery recorded an order of 10,000 pounds of ship bread for local vessels. Pilot bread in contrast was purveyed to ships traveling along the United States Eastern Seaboard and catered to an extensive local merchant business market as well.

In 1883, George Butler received an endorsement for the bakery’s bread from one of the associate judges of the United States Supreme Court, Samuel F. Miller, who had been given a supply of it from General Benjamin F. Butler. It was said that the general (no relation to the family of bakers) always had a supply of Butler’s bread on board his yacht. A red channel marker on the Salisbury side of the Merrimack River is still know as "Butler’s Toothpick," named for the general, who was a Civil War veteran.

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Mrs. Francis’s Restaurant

Advertisement in the City Directory, 1910-11. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

In the City Directory of 1910 and 1911, Mr. George C. Gray (1849-1927), an African American, was listed as a chef at 60 Pleasant Street. The restaurant where he worked was located across the street from Brown Square Hotel, now the Garrison Inn. An advertisement described Mrs. Francis’s Restaurant as "The Best Dinner in the City." Mr. Gray, a native of Brooklyn, New York, enlisted in the United States Navy during the Civil War and fought at the Battle of New Orleans. He became a member of Newburyport’s Albert W. Bartlet Post 49, Grand Army of the Republic, shortly after he settled here in 1868. After the war, Mr. Gray was employed for many years with the mackerel and cod fishing firm of Sanborn and Boardman (Isaac Boardman was a Newburyport mayor in 1863), the Merrimack River Towing Company, and worked on vessels engaged in the West India trade. Later, he owned a coffee house in Market Square. He was a longtime member of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, living just a few yards away on Market Street. Mr. Gray passed away at the age of 79 years old and is buried in Highland Cemetery with his wife, Margaret, a Quaker and a native of Philadelphia, and his daughter Mrs. Lillian Roundtree.

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City Hall

City Hall, 1851. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

A beautiful garden where City Hall now stands was tended by a native of England, William Ashby (1787-1881), who was a passionate horticulturalist. An Abolitionist, Mr. Ashby held the first of many "Laurel Parties" in 1849, on the blooming mountain laurel shrub-covered banks of the Merrimack River. Over time the picnics became devoted to the celebration of literature and as well served as gatherings of supporters of the anti-slavery campaign. This land was later owned by the Moseley family and is now known as Maudslay State Park.

At the old Town Hall in Market Square a meeting was held on March 19, 1850, and citizens voted to build a city hall, the cost of which was not to exceed $30,000. The vote was close: 118 votes for the new location on the corner of Pleasant and Green Streets, and 108 votes against this proposal. A building committee was formed, land purchased, and the cornerstone laid on July 4, 1850. The new structure was designed by local architect and Civil War veteran Colonel Frederick J. Coffin, who also drafted the plan for the Ocean Steam Mill on Warren Street. Albert Currier, a well-known contractor and Newburyport mayor in 1859 and 1860, built the City Hall, completed in February of 1851, as well as the Immaculate Conception Church and the public library Simpson annex. According to the Newburyport Historic Building Survey, the City Hall is an "excellent example of the Italianate style."

Advertisement in the City Directory, 1869. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

On the western side of City Hall, an addition was built to create a new stage entrance for $14,356 in 1881. Contractor John A. Greeley, half-brother of General Adolphus Greeley, the war veteran and Arctic explorer, completed the work. Mr. Greeley lived on the corner of Federal and High Streets at 78 High Street. His daughter Clarissa was married to the esteemed Newburyport photographer John Winter Winder.

On May 24, 1851, Governor George S. Boutwell signed an act to establish Newburyport as a city. At this time, parts of Newbury were annexed to Newburyport - the Ridge, Joppa, Belleville, Grasshopper Plains, and the Artichoke. Caleb Cushing was elected as the first mayor. He went on to become one of America’s most important statesmen and diplomats of the time.

Visitors are welcome in City Hall to view the mayors’ portraits, old voter ballot boxes, an original cabinet with weights and measures of the 1850s, and the 130 year-old auditorium.

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War Memorials

At the east end of Brown Square along Green Street is a memorial commemorating the City’s World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans, dedicated in 1979. Three low markers were erected by the Bradbury-Doyle Post 1745, the Eugene A. Twomey Sr. Chapter 40 Disabled American Veterans, and the last dedicated by the American Legion Post 150. A large granite tablet honors those who served in the War with Spain, the Philippine Insurrection, and the China Relief Expedition.

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