Atkinson Common and the Belleville Improvement Society
Founded in 1893, twenty years after Atkinson Common was bequeathed to the City of Newburyport, the Belleville Improvement Society originated when local families began to convert the open field into a public park and garden for residents of Newburyport's Belleville neighborhood. For over 100 years, the Society has existed to maintain, preserve and beautify Atkinson Common.
Today, Atkinson Common is comprised of some twenty-one acres including both the historic park and garden on High Street and the recreational portion, Pioneer League Fields. The gardens frequently provide the backdrop for weddings, family gatherings, graduations, school events, veterans' events and memorial services. The landscape, historic structures and commemorative monuments are well sought out by local artists. The Pioneer League Fields host over 600 Pioneer League ball players every season. The tennis courts are home to Newburyport High School tennis team and host to the Youth Services summer programs. The Civil War statue and Soldier and Sailors Tablets frequently host commemorative events held by local Veterans' groups and aficionados. And the High Street entrance provides a striking public forum that is frequently utilized for political rallies and speeches. No other facility can claim to have touched the lives of such a diverse group of visitors and area residents.
Given the prominence of this property within the local community, it is of the utmost importance that the historic park and garden be restored while allowing for, and respecting the contemporary uses of the Common.