Thursday, December 15, 2011

Haven Block

The Haven Block is in Market Square, on the northwest corner of Market Square and Market Street – the building directly east of the Portsmouth Athenaeum.

John Melcher’s wooden house, located on this corner in 1802, burned to the ground in the Great Parade Fire, the first of the three Great Portsmouth Fires. The Haven family purchased the ashes soon after and erected this brick building.

Reverend Samuel Haven served as pastor of the South Parish for 54 years (1752 -1806). His home occupied the space now known as Haven Park. After he died on March 3, 1806, his daughters left Portsmouth $25,000 to create the public park between Livermore Street and Edward Street, the location of the General Fitz-John Porter statue. Portsmouth established Haven Park in 1898.

Around the year 1900, the third floor was converted into Conservatory Hall by music director Gerald Bertrand Whitman, who used the space for a music school and social gathering place.

At the time the vintage photograph below was published in C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, the building housed Frank W. Knight’s Footwear Store, Moorcroft’s Millinery Store, and Whitman's Conservatory Hall.

Today, the Haven Block has retail space, including Market Square Jewelers, on the first floor and (I believe) all apartments above.

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