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!"


  1. I really enjoy your blog, especially the re-photography of our city's historic buildings. Looking at the turn-of-the-century photo of my (Portsmouth Brewery) building, I'm left wondering what happened to that wonderful decorative element (eagle?) under the cornice. I wish it were still there today!

    And thanks, by the way, for the kind words about the Brewery.

    Peter Egelston
    Portsmouth Brewery

  2. Thank you for leaving such a nice comment on my blog, Peter!

    I will add information about the decorative eagle shown in the old photograph to the Portsmouth Brewery post.

    Thanks again for visiting my blog. Keep up your great work at Portsmouth Brewery!