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A Closer Look At The Brick Around Us, or Its All About The Clay

  • Museum of Old Newbury 98 High Street Newburyport United States (map)

Newburyport MA – April 23, 2019: The Museum of Old Newbury is pleased to announce the fourth in its spring lecture series on Monday, April 29 with an illustrated presentation by historian Michael Welch. The program will be held at the museum's headquarters at 98 High Street. A reception will be held at 6:30 pm followed by the lecture at 7 pm in the Francis Benjamin Lecture Hall. Funding for this program is made possible by a grant from the Institution for Savings

Newburyport boasts a large concentration of Federal period brick buildings in the historic Market Square District that came as the result of a devastating fire that occurred on May 31, 1811. Water Street and contiguous areas covering over 16 acres were completely destroyed as an uncontrollable blaze swept through the frame buildings that comprised Newburyport's business district. Both family homes and businesses, approximately 250 in all, were destroyed with damage estimated at about a million dollars. Just days after the fire city officials met and set in to law the “Brick Acts” of 1811 and 1812 declaring that all downtown buildings in Newburyport must be constructed of brick.

The first bricks made in this country date to 1612 and were made in Virginia. However, in 1629 the first brick kiln was erected in Salem, MA and brick making was introduced to New England. The presentation will discuss where and how bricks were made and chronicle Newburyport's legacy of brick structures. The excellent quality and availability of local clays in the colonies negated the need to import bricks from England.

Mike Welch.jpg

Michael Welch, a West Newbury resident, is a retired teacher from the Lexington, MA school system. A talented musician and historian he provides museum education programs for The American Independence Museum in Exeter, NH, Historic New England at the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm in Newbury, the Customs House Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Old Newbury in Newburyport.

Admission is free, although space is limited, and reservations are requested. To make a reservation, call 978-462-2681 or email

The Museum of Old Newbury preserves and interprets the history of “Old Newbury” which includes Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury from pre-settlement to the present.