Iconic ‘Pink House' in Newbury at risk of demolition

The Pink House is on protected property and with it now up for auction, the only way it can stay there is through a land exchange

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Supporters of the Pink House, an iconic landmark in Newbury, Massachusetts, are calling on federal officials to step in after the 99-year-old building hit the auction block Wednesday morning.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife paid $375,000 for the Pink House on Plum Island Turnpike and the nine acres of marshland it sits on in 2011. Parker River Wildlife Refuge officials say they now have no choice but to remove or demolish the structure, but passionate supporters are trying to save it.



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“Locals debate the origins and it’s fun. No one actually knows,” said Katy O’Connor Ives, a former state senator for the region.

“The folklore is that a couple had divorced and the husband had built this home for his ex-wife because he was ordered to so he put it in the marsh and painted it pink,” added Ginny Eramo, owner of Interlocks in Newburyport.

Since the Pink House is on protected property, the only way it can stay there is through a land exchange. Two deals fell through in 2020 and 2022, according to Matt Hillman, the Parker River Wildlife Refuge manager.

“Unfortunately taking care of a house and spending up to $5,000 or more per year for the structure — even if we had the capacity to do so — does not fit with our mission to conserve our endangered species and our habitats,” Hillman said.

“What I take exception to is that they purchased this land at a huge bargain and they want to preserve land as their mission. We offered you the option to preserve more land. That’s rejected. Now that doesn’t add up,” O’Connor Ives countered. 

The federal government put the iconic landmark on the auction block at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, with the starting bid at $3,000. The auction will go on for 30 to 60 days, according to Hillman.

“Most of the expense for this is going to be in the next steps, which is going to be relocating or salvaging or some other repurposing of structure itself,” Hillman said.

Support the Pink House, a local nonprofit, has been trying to save it for the last eight years. They believe a land swap can still be salvaged, so they’re calling on Congressman Seth Moulton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ed Markey. All three members of the Massachusetts delegation either did not respond or declined to comment Wednesday.

“It’s glaring that they’re not stepping in to work for the people and work out something that should be a win for all,” President of Support the Pink House

Rochelle Joseph said. “This is the time they’re to rise to that vow that people vote them in for.”

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