Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Portsmouth Brewery

Portsmouth Brewery is located at 56 Market Street, in one of the brick merchant buildings between Hanover and Ladd Streets.

Merchants have been selling their wares on this avenue since the 17th Century. As the first Portsmouth road to be paved, in 1767, the narrow, cobblestone lane from Market Square to Bow Street was called Paved Street.

On December 26, 1802, the Great Portsmouth Parade Fire started in a wooden dwelling that also housed the New Hampshire Bank (22-26 Market Square). The inferno destroyed every Market Street building, on both sides of the street, from the Parade (Market Square) to the Moffatt-Ladd House.

Market Street burned again in 1845 when sparks from a chimney fire ignited a wooden building near the corner of Hanover and Market Streets. During the ensuing Great Market Street Fire, the blaze consumed most of the homes and businesses around the intersection of Hanover, Bow, and Market Streets. Even four-story, brick buildings on the west side of Market Street were destroyed.

Portsmouth constructed the current brick block after the 1845 fire. The building facade has barely changed since before the Civil War.

The black-and-white photograph above appeared in C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. At the turn of the 20th Century, this building housed H. C. Hopkins & Company, a store owned by Portsmouth resident Henry C. Hopkins.

The Portsmouth Directory of 1905 listed the merchant under the following categories:
  • Carpets
  • Cloaks and Suits (Ladies’ and Children’s)
  • Dry Goods
  • Fancy Goods
  • Hosiery and Gloves
  • Small Wares
  • Underwear
  • Upholstery Goods

The building is now home to the Portsmouth Brewery. Opened in 1991, this restaurant and microbrewery has received worldwide accolades and awards for their handcrafted beers. In 2007, Beer Advocates magazine named their Imperial Russian Stout the best beer in America and the second best beer on the planet! For a nice break during any Portsmouth walk, I recommend stopping in to Portsmouth Brewery for a pint and a bite.

Edited on 8/10/2011 to add:

I believe John Haley Bellamy carved the decorative eagle in the old photograph. Bellamy, born in Kittery in 1836, was known for creating stylized wooden eagles that are valued by folk art collectors. He died in Portsmouth in 1914.

The eagle that hung under the cornice of this building is very similar to the one hanging over the door of the Treadwell Jenness House at 93 Pleasant Street, on the northeast corner of Pleasant and Court Streets:

The old picture is quite fuzzy when enlarged, but the eagle appears to be holding a flagpole in front of its right wing. This eagle probably once held a carved banner displaying an American motto like, “Liberty or Death”, "Don't Give Up the Ship!", or "Don't Tread on Me!"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jenness House

The Jennesss House stood on the north side of Deer Street opposite the intersection of Deer and High Streets.

Richard Hart built the large house during the early 1700s before the Revolutionary War. It served as a boarding house for many years. Peter Jenness owned it until his death in 1876, when a society purchased the building and opened it as "Faith Home" for needy and elderly women.

My photograph is approximately the same location as the Jenness House. The area on both sides of Deer Street used to be a thriving neighborhood of immigrants who lived in historic homes. During the misguided urban renewal craze of the 1960s, the city relocated all the families, razed most of the old buildings, and moved a few to The Hill (see Fitch House) or to Strawbery Banke museum. Over the years since the needless destruction, developers replaced the historic district with parking lots, a strip mall, business condos, and hotels.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jabez Fitch House

A great place to walk amongst historic homes, The Hill is a small office park bordered by High and Deer Streets. The Fitch House is located at 406 The Hill, adjacent to High Street.

Members of the North Church built the home in 1725 for their new minister, the Reverend Jabez Fitch. Rev. Fitch graduated from Harvard College in 1694 and became minister of the North Church in 1724.  He was a well-educated man who published four sermons while living in Portsmouth. He also wrote a history of New Hampshire that he never published.

Rev. Fitch preached at the North Church and lived in this home until his death on November 22, 1746.

Other than the new doorway facing High Street, the house exterior is virtually unchanged.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Deer Tavern

The Deer Tavern stood on Deer Street, a short distance up the hill from Market Street.

Built by a merchant named John Newmarch, the public house had a deer sign hanging outside. It was this sign that inspired the name Deer Street. In the picture below, the Deer Tavern is the second building from the left.

The Deer Tavern was demolished years ago, and the location is now home to some fine shops and condominiums.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thomas Sheafe House

The Thomas Sheafe House formerly stood at the southwest corner of Market and Deer Streets.

Jacob Sheafe was a successful merchant who owned large parcels of land around Portsmouth in the 1700s. When he died in 1791, he left each of his ten children a house and a farm. One of his sons, Thomas, built a large home near the riverside on Market Street, almost directly opposite his wharf, which stood at the end of Deer Street.

This “Sheafe’s Wharf” should not be confused with the Sheafe Warehouse in Prescott Park. That building was constructed by Thomas’s grandfather, Sampson Sheafe, circa 1740. It was located near the Point of Graves burial ground, south of Prescott Park.

Sadly, Thomas Sheafe is best known for an event that occurred on July 22, 1798. One of his merchant ships, Mentor, arrived at his wharf from Martinique carrying sugar, molasses, coffee, and the yellow fever. The disease quickly spread to nearby homes. By the time the first frost ended the plague in early October, 96 townspeople had been infected and 55 died.

Thomas Sheafe lost three children. According to the family gravestone, they were Sarah, age 17; Thomas, Jr. age 14; and Horatio, age 6. Next door, at the Noah Parker House, the late reverend’s widow lost a daughter and niece as well as a merchant boarder.

A commercial building and city pumping station now occupy the former location of the Thomas Sheafe house. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Noah Parker House

The Noah Parker House is next door to the Moffatt-Ladd House on Market Street.

Little is known about the history of this house. An unknown builder constructed the home prior to the American Revolution, around the same time as John Moffatt's mansion next door (1763).

Noah Parker, a blacksmith and whitesmith, moved in during the Revolutionary War years, probably in the early 1780s. A religious man, Reverend Parker delivered his first sermon in 1784 as the first Universalist minister in Portsmouth. He lived in this house until his death on August 17, 1787. Afterwards, one of Reverend Parker’s daughters ran a genteel boarding house here.

The photograph below, from C. S. Gurney's Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, shows the house primarily as it looked when the Reverend Parker lived there. Later owners made significant changes to the building.

During the 1920s, it was a boarding house called the "New Boston". Over the years, alterations included removal of the brick chimneys and the construction of an addition on the back, a dormer window, and a bay window. The front stairway is now parallell to Market Street.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Moffatt-Ladd House

The Moffatt-Ladd House, sometimes called the Whipple-Ladd House, is one of the few wooden buildings in downtown Portsmouth that survived the Great Portsmouth Fires of 1802, 1806, and 1813. A National Historic Landmark, the elegant Georgian-style home is located at 154 Market Street.

John Moffatt, an extremely prosperous Portsmouth merchant, built this mansion in 1763 as a wedding gift to his son, Samuel Moffatt. The entire Moffatt family resided here, across the street from the shipping warehouses of Merchant's Row.

John Moffatt’s daughter, Katherine, married William Whipple in the early 1770s, and they also lived in this house with the Moffatt family. After signing the Declaration of Independence, Whipple returned to this home in Portsmouth and planted a horse chestnut tree that still thrives today on the south (left) side of the house. General Whipple served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War and continued to live in this home until his death in 1785.

In 1817, John Moffatt’s great granddaughter, Maria Tufton Haven Ladd, inherited the house, and the Ladd family descendants lived here until 1911.

The photo below is from C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque.

I captured the above photograph during a Portsmouth walk in November 2011. During the spring and summer, William Whipple's horse chestnut tree, which is now more than 235 years old, almost completely obstructs the mansion from this viewpoint.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fay Block

The Fay Block, or Fay's Block, is located at 1 Congress Street, on the northwest corner of Congress and High Streets.

Domenick Peduzzi, a native of Italy who emigrated to Portsmouth, had a confectionary shop on this spot in the early 1800s. Later, as shown in the photograph below, Joseph Pettigrew ran a leather goods store. The Roman Catholic Church held its first religious service in Portsmouth in the wooden building, which was torn down in 1890.

Soon after the current brick structure was constructed, it once again housed a confectioner's shop, as advertised in the 1905 Portsmouth Directory.
Today the building looks very similar to the way it did in 1902, the year the picture on the left below appeared in C. S. Gurney's book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Portsmouth Athenaeum

The Portsmouth Athenaeum is located at 9 Market Square in Portsmouth, across the street from the North Church.

John Pierce constructed this building in 1803 for the Marine and Fire Insurance Company. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry captured the twin cannons that guard the door at the Battle of Lake Erie. Ironically, losses during the War of 1812 bankrupted the insurance company.

The Portsmouth Athenaeum, a non-profit organization that collects books, manuscripts, photographs, and other information about Portsmouth for educational and research purposes, purchased the building in 1823. Plaques beside the door with "1817" inscribed refer to the year the “Proprietors of the Portsmouth Athenæum” incorporated.

The left photograph, circa 1902, appeared in Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque by C. S. Gurney. I took the right photo in May 2011. The building's exterior has changed little over the last century; however, looking closely at the old photo, you can see that the cannons were once located beyond the original sidewalk, about 6 feet away from the door.