Friday, June 5, 2015

Charles E. Trafton House

The Charles E. Trafton House sits at 169 Lafayette Road, on the northeast corner of South and Middle Streets.

This large home and stable were constructed for Portsmouth resident Charles E. Trafton in 1897, at a cost of $27,000. 

Trafton, the District Agent for Travelers Insurance Company, placed the advertisement below in the Portsmouth Directory of 1905. His insurance office was located in the Congress Block on Congress Street.

William A. Ashe, the architect who designed the Charles E. Trafton House, moved to Portsmouth from Boston in 1868. He worked as a draftsman at the Naval Shipyard for 25 years, and afterwards, established his own architectural business around 1893. During and after his employment at the naval shipyard, Ashe designed many homes and buildings on Portsmouth’s West Side. His most important works were the Music Hall (1877) on Chestnut Street, the old Rockingham County Jail (1891) on Penhallow Street, and the remodel of the Academy Building’s interior for the former Portsmouth Public Library (1896) on Middle Street.

The Charles E. Tafton home still stands at the busy intersection of South Street and Lafayette Road. Except for the paved road and the clutter of view-obscuring traffic lights and signs, the corner remains very similar to the way it appeared in 1902, in the photograph below from C. S. Gurney’s book, Portsmouth . . . Historic & Picturesque.

This late-19th Century, single-family home is now a multi-family condominium in the early 21st Century.