Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Old Custom House and Post Office

The old Custom House and Post Office is located on the southeast corner of Daniel and Penhallow Streets.

This building was erected a few years after the Great Portsmouth Fire of 1813 ravaged the North End. The builders were private citizens who sold the building to the United States government before construction was completed.

It served as Portsmouth’s Custom House and Post Office from about 1817 to 1858. Both operations then moved to a new Custom House and Post Office, the large granite Federal Building on the northwest corner of Pleasant and State Streets.

The Portsmouth Athenaeum, established in 1818, originally occupied a small room in this building. The library moved to Market Square when the Marine and Fire Insurance Company building became available in 1823.

The Federal government rented the building from 1860 to 1867 and then sold it to a private buyer.

The picture below appeared in C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. At that time, a corner shop by Charles N. Holmes and Lyman A. Holmes advertised their services as saw filers, specialists who sharpened and repaired saws. A painter named George H. Tripp occupied the shop around the corner on Penhallow Street.

Today there are two stores that occupy the building, Scallops Mineral and Shell Emporium and Paradiza Boutique.

Don't you think Daniel Street would be much more picturesque if  Portsmouth buried these ugly power and telephone lines?


  1. Yes! Those telephone lines are hideous!

  2. Here is a sketch from 1894
    from the book:
    Three Heroines of New England Romance Their true stories herein set forth by Mrs Harriet Spoffard, Miss Louise Imogen Guiney, and Miss Alice Brown

    Author: Harriet Prescott Spofford, Louise Imogen Guiney, Alice Brown

    Illustrator: Edmund H. Garrett