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Plum Island Pink House in Newbury, Massachusetts, to be auctioned – NBC Boston
Plum Island Pink House in Newbury, Massachusetts, to be auctioned – NBC Boston

Supporters of the Pink House, a landmark in Newbury, Massachusetts, are calling for federal intervention after the 99-year-old building was auctioned off Wednesday morning.

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

“Locals discuss the origins and it’s fun. Nobody really knows,” said Katy O’Connor Ives, a former state senator from the area.

“Legend has it that a couple had gotten divorced and the husband had built this house on the orders of his ex-wife. So he built it in the swamp and painted it pink,” added Ginny Eramo, owner of Interlocks in Newburyport.

Because the Pink House is located on protected land, it can only remain there through a land swap. According to Matt Hillman, manager of the Parker River Wildlife Refuge, two deals fell through in 2020 and 2022.

“Unfortunately, spending $5,000 or more annually on home maintenance – even if we had the means – doesn’t align with our mission to protect our endangered species and our habitats,” Hillman said.

“What I object to is that you bought this land at a huge bargain price and your goal is to preserve the land. We offered you the option to preserve more land. You turned that down. That doesn’t add up,” O’Connor Ives replied.

The federal government auctioned the landmark on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. The starting bid was $3,000. The auction will last 30 to 60 days, according to Hillman.

“Most of the costs of this will be incurred in the next steps, namely relocating, salvaging or otherwise repurposing the structure itself,” Hillman said.

Support the Pink House, a local nonprofit, has been trying to save the building for eight years. They believe a land swap is salvageable and are reaching out to Congressman Seth Moulton, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Ed Markey. All three members of the Massachusetts delegation either did not respond or declined to comment Wednesday.

“It is blatant that they are not stepping in to work for the people and work out something that should be a win-win for everyone,” President of Support the Pink House

Rochelle Joseph said: “Now is the time for them to deliver on the promise the people elected them for.”

By Aurora