Clark and Currier
Thomas March Clark, Sr. was the shipbuilder who built the house in 1803. His success, wealth, and good taste are evident in many features throughout the house. Currier is a common surname in the area. Our Currier was a cousin to one half of the lithographer team of Currier & Ives. Although from Newburyport, Mr. Currier was a successful Manhattan silversmith. He bought the house to use as a summer retreat.
The Clark Currier Inn is an historic house in an historic city. That history is reflected in the rich variety of original buildings that have survived for more than 300 years since the first Europeans settled on the banks of the Merrimack River. A drive along High Street, the main road through Newburyport’s residential section, is like a survey course in American architecture. First Period (“salt box”), Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, French Second Empire, and Victorian styles are evident in many of the old houses found in this seaport city.
The Federal Style
Homes built in the Federal style generally have three stories, each with five windows (or a door) equispaced along the front facing the street. Notice that the third-story windows are smaller than the lower floors. This increases the sense of height and produces a graceful balance. The symmetry lends itself to the development of a type of home that is quite prevalent in Newburyport: the “square house.”
If the owner had sufficient funds he might have a larger house by rotating the plan 90 degrees enabling a second entrance and its facade on the side of the building. Such a mansion would befit a successful ship owner or merchant, many of whom lived in Newburyport. Or perhaps the owner had elderly parents or adult children starting their own families. The square house is ideal for such a situation.
Many of the homes in Newburyport are known by name. They may even have them on the front of the house. As you travel around the city you will notice that many houses have a similar sign. This tradition of signage is the result of a Works Projects Administration (WPA) initiated during The Depression in 1935.