By Dyke Hendrickson
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Yankee Homecoming is only 56 years old, which borders on being young by Newburyport (founded 1764) standards.
But numerous local historians will be leading heritage tours and events in the next week, and the focus on the past starts Saturday at 10 a.m.
Yankee Homecoming, the city’s week-long summer festival, officially kicks off this weekend with a wide variety of activities, culminating in the Aug. 3 fireworks and Aug. 4 parade. But throughout the week, local historians will be presenting numerous programs and walking tours highlighting the city’s proud history.
The resurgence of the history tours is a relatively new phenomenon, and this year’s schedule builds on past year’s successes.
Here’s a look at what is scheduled:
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — “Clipper Heritage Trail Day,” with historian Ghlee Woodworth. She will be at the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist to consult with visitors about the new online heritage trail. The new tour can be accessed online through mobile online devices, and the free mobile app can be found at www.clipperheritagetrail.com. There will a sign outside the church, and participants can win prizes.
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and also 5 to 6:30 p.m., — “Footsteps of Heroes: Civil War Walking Tour.” Authors William and Elizabeth Hallett lead a 90-minute walking tour focusing on sites from the community’s Civil War history.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. — “Wharves, Range Lights, Coal and the Coast Guard,” Newburyport Art Association, 65 Water St. Local residents Skip and Marge Motes talk about what the community was like in the 1700s.
Saturday, 4 to 5:30 p.m. — “Tiptoe Through the Tombstones,” Oak Hill Cemetery. Woodworth will lead a tour that focuses on long-ago residences, and in this tour she discusses the city’s gravestone restoration project.
Sunday, Powder House, 1 to 3 p.m. — The Powder House (circa 1822) is located at 57 Low St., and replicates a storage facility used in the aftermath of the War of 1812 and during the Civil War. A tour starts at the site.
Sunday, noon — “Bartlet Mall.” Historians will discuss the Superior Court building, the oldest regularly operating courthouse in the U.S. Visit the courtroom and learn about the history.
Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. — “History Tours of St. Paul’s Church. Tours are on the half hour as guides in period Colonial garb escort visitors back through the past.
Monday, 5 to 6 p.m. — “Memories of Plum Island Camp Sea Haven.” A film will be screened at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge headquarters on Plum Island that focuses on the summer camp used from the ’40s through the ’80s by youngsters with polio and other ailments. The first reunion of counselors and campers will take place Sunday afternoon at the Newbury Fire Department Hall.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 11:30 p.m. — “Food and History.” Guides Woodworth and Patrick Halloran will take guests along a historical trail while sampling food from local vendors.
Wednesday, 7 to 8 p.m. — slide show in program room of local library, 94 State St. Woodworth will take guests on a visual tour along the Clipper Heritage Trail, including “visits” to cemeteries that hold much local history.
Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon — Cemetery Crawl. Visitors will join Woodworth on a tour and discussion of past lives in selected cemeteries.
Saturday, Aug. 3, 1 to 4 p.m. — Plum Island Lighthouse Tour. This is a tour of the lighthouse at the northern tip of Plum Island from where Salisbury and the Isle of Shoals can be seen. The present Plum Island Lighthouse was first lighted in September 1898.
Saturday, Aug. 3, 1 to 4 p.m. — Plum Island clam plant open house. The shellfish purification plan is the oldest operating such facility in the country, and one of just five in the U.S. It is celebrating its 83rd year in operation.
Saturday, Aug. 3, 10 to 11 a.m., First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist, side entrance, Unicorn Street — “Stories from Historic Houses.” Historian Linda Tulley will talk about legendary stories from some old local homes.
Saturday, Aug. 3, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and also 5 to 6:30 p.m. — “Footsteps of Heroes: Civil War Walking Tour.” Authors William and Elizabeth Hallett lead a 90-minute walking tour focusing on sites from the community’s Civil War history.