Reflections of the Waterside ... throughout the generations
A retrospective ~ folio 3 ~ "Home is where the heart is"
portfolio intro ~ folio 1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7 ~ 8 ~ 9 ~ 10

Where ever you roam ~ sea or land ~ home is where the heart is.
1 And the Waterside community of Newburyport is where Lord Timothy Dexter's heart and "sole" remain. Where were did he live and where were his "old haunts"?

When his "ship came in" ~ Dexter's speculation was as much in land as in those celebrated maritime ventures. Indeed, Dexter held title to more humble Newburyport properties than the grand estates depicted in the images to follow ~ as footnoted below.

And, of course, it should be duly noted that Dexter was often most at home "out dors" ~ communing with "Nater" ~ when "abrored" during his daily constitutionals. But first, take note of two of his Newburyport abodes which still stand (in somewhat altered states) ...

Image scanned from Currier's History of Newburyport, Volume I
From April 8, 1791 through April 9, 1796 Dexter owned and lived in the Tracy House, having purchased the grand mansion built by Patrick Tracy for his son Nathaniel. The latter, by then facing bankruptcy, was forced to sell his holdings through an intermediary. (SMILE ~ Seek More Information/inspiration Logged Electroncially at

For a brief period from 1807 until the economic devastation after the Great Fire of 1811 it served as the Sun Hotel. Its colorful past included use as a bowling alley. Acquired in 1864 and remodeled for use as a library facility, since 1866 the Tracy House has served in this sole capacity ~ and after renovations and expansion were completed in May 2001, has served as the library's annex.
In this image, Lord Timothy Dexter and Jonathan Plummer (embodied by Newburyport's own Paul Jancewicz and John Brennan of Newport, respectively) pose at the Tracy House entrance ~ a portal through which the nouveau riche adventurer and his novice poet laureate would often pass some seven generations ago, until ...

Dexter temporarily removed his family to Chester, New Hampshire in 1796 ~ only to return within two years, to this place he came upon as a young man ~ a "plase all noue" ~ a special place where you can see our tomorrows dawn.

Here, an image from "A Day in the Life of a Lord and his Poet Laureate" when their occasion to get reacquainted was captured for posterity in a virtual vignette. Take note of the images captured in the Tracy House reading room ~ which was once Dexter's twin parlors ~ where the two caught up with "wots noue" in the "nous papers."

© 2004 Bright iDear

Scanned image © 2006 Bright iDear ~ courtesy of the Newburyport
Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library
Returning home again from Chester, by August 1798 Dexter had acquired the estate originally built by Jonathan Jackson ~ and soon therafter, his well-seated "pallas" and well-seeded "gardings" flourished in unconventional ways. Though now a private residence, his former High Street mansion still bears his name.

The sight-seers who frequently seek it out are surprised to see something quite different than this well-known image ~ depicting the Dexter House with its grounds adorned with the forty-odd "wooden figgers" in Lord Tim's ever-evolving montage of history and history in the making.

Link without to the community Website to view this image as a colorized postcard.
Despite a fire during renovations in 1987, the present owners have restored the Dexter House to a stately grandeur ~ howbeit in the more conservative style of its first owner. The Dexter House is now devoid of the "accoutrements" which would be diplomatically framed (in today's terms) "an attractive nuisance." Though the Knowing Ones now such attraction was surely his Lordship's intention ~ since Dexter, always ahead of the wave, had envisioned Newburyport as a tourist destination.)

This image depicts Lord Tim ~ in the form of Newburyport native Paul Jancewicz ~ strolling past his former seat. The imagery prompts the good questions:

Can you come home again? And finding your way home, what will you find changed? And the ultimate question: Is that change progress?

© 2004 Bright iDear
1 Dexter had purchased property on Prospect Street in 1770, although it is unlikely there was a dwelling house on the lot. Upon marrying the widow Elizabeth Lord Frothingham, Dexter lived in the family homestead and shop on the easterly corner of Merrimack and Green Streets (across from Somerby's Landing) ~ and later purchased a portion of said property from the sons and heirs of his wife's late first husband's estate. The site is now the landscaped corner of the Green Street parking lot. Do you recall when that house was moved a generation ago, during downtown redevelopment? And do you know to where? Have you a photograph or "photographic memory" of the structure?

2 Given insight and soul-sight ~ one has always had a sense that it was Lord Tim's circle of the Knowing Ones who envisioned mounting the cask and weathervane of a ship on the Old Beacon Oak. (The natural landmark would have been in view from the cupola atop the Dexter House.) Might this be so? That is a question one of today's generations of the Knowing Ones would love to have answered ~ with "certain knowledge."

3 After renovation and expansion was completed in May 2001, the Tracy House now serves as the library's annex ~ with a spacious, relaxing reading room in its twin parlors, and an exquisite directors room with administrative offices on that first floor. (An earlier addition, once renovated, serves as an expansive the program room with multi-media capabilities.)

In the upstairs living quarters (where George Washington slept when visiting Newburyport in October 1789), patrons make use what Dexter would call the "noue systom of knollege & Lite" in the technology room, review microfilm in the research area and have access to computers and conference areas in the upper story lofts. (Come to more about the library at this link without.)

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