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Merrimack Valley

November 4, 2013

Historic hotel demolished on Plum Island

Oliver House hotel demolished on Plum Island

NEWBURYPORT — The Oliver House, considered the last of the “old hotels” on Plum Island, has joined other historic structures in the afterlife of seaside retreats.

The century-old wood building, located at 245 Northern Blvd. at the island’s northernmost end, was demolished in recent days and its remains were removed.

Officials in the office of the building inspector issued a permit for the demolition, which was approved with reluctance by the local Historical Commission in July.

City officials say they have not received building permits from the owners, Kevin and Deborah Raftery of Newburyport, to replace the structure.

The Rafterys purchased it in 2008, according to the municipal assessor’s office. They did not returns calls requesting comment yesterday on whether they plan to build on the parcel.

Shortly after buying it, they had commissioned an architectural plan for a thorough renovation into a residence, but nothing now appears to be in the works. The proposed renovation stayed true in appearance to the Oliver House, at least from the street. However, it also greatly expanded the footprint. In the rear the plan showed a large ell with an open two-car port beneath a deck and a second-story room.

Local historians say Oliver House was originally built in the late 1800s at Black Rocks in Salisbury — directly across the Merrimack River from Plum Island. It was later transported by barge across the river to Plum Island Point.

The Oliver House opened on Plum Island in the 1890s as a guesthouse and hotel, at a time when the island buzzed with summer visitors and small cottages were beginning to pop up on beachfront lots. The island offered a host of amusements for visitors, such as a dance hall, roller skating and plentiful “shore dinners.” Trolley lines connected the island to Newburyport and cities beyond, and ferries were available to take visitors to the island.

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