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April 2, 2013

City gets approval for 2nd 'cultural district'

'Harbortown' district gains state approval

The city of Gloucester is the first community in the state to have two designated cultural districts, with a newly-granted approval of a Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The state panel’s approval of the new “Harbortown” district — initially sought as a Gloucester Downtown Cultural District — also increases the number of cultural districts on Cape Ann to four, with the new designation joining Gloucester’s Rocky Neck and Rockport – two of the state’s first five named last spring — and the Essex River Cultural District that gained state approval last October.

All of the cultural districts — which now number 15 in all — are part of the state’s efforts to help communities cultivate their creative economies.

A delegation representing the committee that has spearheaded the push for the new district traveled to Springfield for last Friday’s cultural council vote, including the city’s chief administrative officer, James Duggan, steering committee co-Chairs Judith Hoglander and Bob Whitmarsh, and committee members Lise Breen and Henry Allen.

The district — which despite the name change, includes all the committee was seeking, runs from St. Peter’s Square along the city’s waterfront along the new HarborWalk to the Harbor Loop area, home to Maritime Gloucester. It also includes the Rose Baker senior center, and both the east end and west end of Main Street.

The district also includes the Cape Ann Museum, City Hall, which is home to WPA murals, the Sawyer Free Library, and Middle Street, which is home to historic churches and Temple Ahavat Achim. The district line then extends down to Legion Square and the Legion building near the Joan of Arc statue, looping back to St. Peter’s Park.

“We are just thrilled and so pleased that we are the first city to have two cultural districts,” said Hoglander. “It was such a relief to get this stage over. We’ve been working so long on this. It is a big and complex district.”

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