Historic New England Launches Redevelopment Initiative in Haverhill

Rendering by TenBerke Architects

Haverhill, MA – Vin Cipolla, president and CEO of Historic New England, announced the organization is launching a transformational redevelopment initiative in Haverhill.

Plans include reimagining over three acres of historic buildings and vacant property in the heart of downtown Haverhill at the doorstep of Commuter Rail and Amtrak. The new cultural destination and mixed-use district offers approximately 600,000sf of potential development, anchored by the new Historic New England Center for Preservation and Collections.

The Haverhill Center will feature creative exhibits from Historic New England’s 125,000-piece collection of historic objects, 1.5 million archival documents, interactive programming, demonstrations, and other activities. Early design concepts also include retail and commercial space, artist live-work space, housing and a hotel, and other uses. The organization is building a team of experts and is launching an effort to attract public and private partners to realize redevelopment of the area.

“We envision using culture as a catalyst for developing dramatically improved amenities that contribute to a more sustainable, livable, and resilient city, anticipating that the impact of the downtown cultural district will reverberate internationally. Given Haverhill’s easily accessible location in New England, this district presents a major opportunity for transit-oriented mixed-use development in the city, with a nationally recognized civic and cultural institution at its heart,” said Cipolla.

Historic New England has been working with the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce to enrich its thinking and to connect and collaborate with the business community, talking with CEOs, entrepreneurs, community leaders, makers, and artists.

Noted Cipolla, “With the addition of the 143 Essex building, and the two associated development lots, to our other properties, Historic New England now has an unprecedented opportunity to expand and partner in Haverhill. Our two Essex Street buildings currently are home to over 30 third-party commercial and nonprofit tenants, as well as our collections, photography labs, conservation studios and administrative offices. We will be looking for short-term commercial and nonprofit tenants that complement our holdings.”

In 2022, Historic New England asked architectural firms TenBerke Architects (formerly Deborah Berke Partners), Brandon Haw Architecture, and Höweler + Yoon to each create a design provocation reimagining how the institution’s campus and unmatched collections and archives could be rethought as well as maximize public engagement. They were asked to explore how Historic New England’s holdings could be unleashed as a catalyst for a diverse and sustainable Haverhill reinvigoration. Their holistic initial concepts took into consideration Haverhill’s proximity to Boston and its unusually convenient transit access to the region. The provocations represented early preliminary project thinking.

In the coming months, Historic New England will be launching a comprehensive capital campaign with the Haverhill Center transformation as a foundational part of this effort. Community conversations soliciting input from the public in Haverhill and surrounding areas also will begin during this time.

“We are thrilled with this incredible and transformative development, the latest and one of the best of our 20-year efforts to redevelop downtown. We rezoned downtown years ago making projects like this possible, but it took Historic New England and their team to bring it to fruition,” said Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini. “This project puts Haverhill, once again, on the map and will bring thousands of visitors every year to our downtown and will be an incredible boost to our downtown restaurants and businesses.”