Newbury, Massachusetts

Newbury is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts. It includes the villages of Old Town (Newbury Center), Plum Island and Byfield, home of The Governor’s Academy (formerly Governor Dummer Academy), a private preparatory school. The site had once been a village of the Pawtucket Indians, who hunted, fished or farmed. Many settlers from Europe would do the same. Other trades included tanning and shipbuilding.

Quascancunquen means waterfall, referring to the falls in Byfield where Central Street crosses the Parker River. In 1636, the first water powered mill was established at the falls. Gristmills and sawmills were built, as was the first textile mill in Massachusetts in 1794. The nation’s first preparatory school, now known as The Governor’s Academy, was founded at Byfield in 1763. It was also site of the first female seminary, founded in 1807. Byfield developed into a mill village, previously home to six water powered mills, manufacturing various products from woolens to snuff.

The railroad entered the community in 1850, carrying freight but also tourists, helping Plum Island develop into a Victorian seaside resort. Back on the mainland, silver was discovered in a large field in 1878. By 1905, as the economy had shifted back to agriculture, Newbury became a supplier of eggs, milk and poultry. The town is today primarily residential, with many examples of fine antique architecture.

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