Monday, August 22, 2011

Aldrich House

Also known as the Bailey House and the Nutter House, the Aldrich House  is on the south side of Court Street between Washington and Atkinson Streets, the next west of the William Pitt Tavern.

An unknown builder erected the house during the 1790s. Thomas D. Bailey lived here in 1836 when his grandson, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, was born up the street in the Laighton House.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich became a revered American poet and author. Although he grew up in New Orleans and New York City, some of his fondest childhood memories were of the years 1849 to 1852 when he lived with his grandfather in this house. He wrote two books about the city: The Story of a Bad Boy and An Old Town by the Sea. In The Story of a Bad Boy, he referred to Portsmouth as "Rivermouth" and Thomas Bailey as "grandfather Nutter".

From 1877 to 1883, the Society for the Benefit of Orphan and Destitute Children ran their Children's Home in this building. After the Children's Home moved to the Chase House in 1883, the first hospital in Portsmouth operated in the Aldrich House until the Cottage Hospital overlooking the South Mill Pond opened in 1895.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich died on March 19, 1907. A few months later, on August 1, 1907, the Thomas Bailey Aldrich Memorial Association purchased this building, restored it to the time period when Aldrich was a boy here, and opened it as a memorial museum.

Strawbery Banke museum added the Aldrich House to their collection of historic homes in 1979.

The early photograph above, from C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, was taken before the TBA Memorial Association converted the home into a museum. In my recent picture, the brick structure behind the Aldrich House is a "fireproof" building the Memorial Association constructed to hold Thomas Bailey Aldrich's memoirs and papers. The William Pitt Tavern still stands to the east of the Aldrich House and can be seen in the left background of both photos.

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