Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pleasant Street Cemetery

The Pleasant Street Cemetery is on the west side of Pleasant Street, across from the intersection of Washington and Pleasant Streets.

During Portsmouth's early days, Captain John Pickering owned all of the land that now comprises the South End, from Puddle Dock (south side of Prescott Park)  to the South Mill Bridge. Locals referred to his land as Pickering’s Neck.

The Pickering family donated land to Portsmouth for the creation of the Point of Graves Burial Ground, where the senior John Pickering was buried, in 1671; for Pleasant Street in 1673; and for the Old South Church, later replaced by the South Meeting House, in 1731.

In 1754, they gave this plot of land, on the west side of Pleasant Street, to the town of Portsmouth to be used as a burial ground. The Pleasant Street Cemetery contains the remains of some of the wealthiest merchant and seafaring families who thrived between 1770 and 1860. The oldest existing stone in the cemetery dates from 1763.

A prominent landmark is the tomb of the John Wendell family on the west side of the burial ground that dates from 1818. An interesting fact about the cemetery is that the wives of three privateer captains are buried here, but their husbands were presumably buried at sea or somewhere overseas.

The majority of stones comprise four families: Manning, Coues, Salter, and Wendell.

The most significant change between 1902, when the black-and-white photograph above was taken, and today is that a large cedar tree now prevents photography from the Pleasant Street sidewalk. For this reason, my picture is taken at a lower angle and from a vantage point at least five feet closer to the stones in the foreground. There is a noticeable seam through the middle of my photograph because the closer view forced me to build a composite picture from two photographs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Samuel Larkin House

The Samuel Larkin House, sometimes referred to as the Henry Ladd or Ladd-Richter House, is located at 180 Middle Street, on the west side between State and Austin Streets.

The home of Colonel Joshua Wentworh occupied this space until the early 1800s. Colonel Wentworth, grandson of former Governor John Wentworth, led the first New Hampshire regiment in 1776, became a U. S. Congressman, and served as Supervisor of New Hampshire starting in 1791. One of his daughters, Ann Jaffrey Wentworth, married Samuel Larkin in 1796.

The Larkins purchased the lot, and a local joiner built this brick mansion for them, sometime between the years 1808 and 1815. Like the Academy Building on the corner of Middle and Islington Streets, the Samuel Larkin Building design has been incorrectly attributed to the famous Boston architect, Charles Bulfinch.

Major Larkin, as he was known, came to Portsmouth from Boston in the late 1700s and established a bookstore and stationers in the Parade (Market Square). After his shop burned to the ground in the Great Portsmouth Parade Fire of 1802, he became a successful auctioneer. He gained enormous wealth by selling captured British ships and their cargoes during the War of 1812. The fourteen privateers working out of Portsmouth are said to have captured 419 British ships.

Major Larkin was the Chief Fire Warden of Portsmouth from 1817 to 1825. He was also one of the seven-man delegation who welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette to the state in 1824, along with Gideon Beck, Eben Wentworth, Joshua W. Peirce, Samuel Lord, Ichabod Rollins, and W. H. Y. Hackett.

The Larkins lived in this brick mansion for about twelve years. During their marriage, they had twenty-two children, although many of them died before reaching adulthood. Samuel Larkin died in 1849 at the age of 75.

Joseph Hurd of Exeter later owned the property. His daughter, Hannah, married Henry H. Ladd, a son of Colonel Eliphalet Ladd, and they acquired the property from her father. A prosperous Portsmouth shipping merchant, Henry Ladd served as President of New Hampshire Bank and Portsmouth Savings Bank.

At the turn of the 20th Century, when the picture below appeared in C. S. Gurney's book, Portsmouth . . . Historic & Picturesque, the home was owned by a Dr. Richter.

I have been walking by this house for months, waiting impatiently for the large tree out front to lose its foliage. I am happy to finally add the Samuel Larkin House to the Walk Portsmouth collection!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Daniel Fernald House

The Captain Daniel Fernald House is number 46 Manning Street, behind the South Meeting House on the southwest corner of Howard and Manning Streets.

Like many homes in Portsmouth, the origins of the Fernald House are questionable. Sarah Haven Foster's 1876 Portsmouth Guidebook and C. S. Gurney's 1902 Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque claim that Samuel Frost built the home in 1732. According to modern researcher Richard M. Candee in his 2006 edition of Building Portsmouth, an unknown builder constructed the original house, and Joshua Lebby moved it to this lot sometime between 1733 and 1739. The old home has been enlarged and modified over the years, including the addition of the gambrel roof. 

Captain Samuel Nichols, a merchant seaman, lived here during the Revolutionary War. The house is named after Captain Daniel Fernald, who married a daughter of Captain Nichols and moved into this home in 1788.

Captain Fernald sailed in merchant ships at the time of the American Revolution. During the War of 1812, he captained the schooner Sally and played cat-and-mouse with British warships as he moved merchandise and armaments along the Atlantic coast between Down East Maine and Boston.

Captain Fernald lived here until he died, an old and respected man, in 1866.

According to a biographical sketch of Charles W. Brewster written by William H. Y. Hackett for the second Rambles About Portsmouth, Captain Fernald was a living historical resource whom Brewster consulted for both of his Rambles About Portsmouth books.

A man named John Lewis Lord lived in this home after Daniel Fernald’s death.

After Portsmouth Preservation, Inc. bought the Fernald House in the late 1960s, George and Erica Dodge restored the home.

I like the two whimsical squirrels with acorns topping fence posts that greet visitors!

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?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fowle’s Printing Office

Fowle’s Printing Office was once located at the southeast corner of Washington, Howard, and Pleasant Streets.

Daniel Fowle became an apprentice to a Boston printer and went into business for himself in 1740. His publications during the next ten years, in partnership with another printer, included the American Magazine and a newspaper called the Independent Advertizer. In 1754, the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives had him arrested under suspicion of having published an inflammatory pamphlet, “The Monster of Monsters, by Tom Thumb, Esq.” The House unlawfully imprisoned him in the city jail for two or three days.

The persecution caused Daniel Fowle to leave Massachusetts and relocate to Portsmouth in July 1756. He moved into a wooden building on this corner and published the first edition of a newspaper called The New Hampshire Gazette on October 7, 1756.

His printing press was the first one in New Hampshire, and printers continued using the device until 1890. Daniel Fowle continued publishing until his death in 1787.

The New Hampshire Gazette is the oldest newspaper in the United States and continues to be published to this day, although not at this location.

The current editor is Steve Fowle, third cousin - five times removed - of Daniel Fowle.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sewall House

The Sewall House is located on the south side of Gates Street, near the corner of Gates and Washington Streets.

The house is named after Jonathan Mitchell Sewall, a lawyer, poet, and orator who lived here until his death in 1808. During the American Revolution, he wrote popular patriotic songs. “War and Washington” was a favorite in the American military camps during the conflict:

After the war, Sewall delivered the first Fourth of July speech in Portsmouth, on July 4, 1788.

George Washington, the first President of the United States and beloved friend of Portsmouth, died on December 14, 1799. On the 31st, a somber procession of military units, fraternal organizations, clergymen, and citizens marched through the center of town. All of the ships in the harbor lowered their flags to half-mast. After a service by Reverend Willard at St. John’s Church, Jonathan Sewall delivered a eulogy for the fallen hero.

In 1801, William Treadwell & Company of Portsmouth published Miscellaneous Poems, a collection of verses by Jonathan M. Sewell. He is also known for writing epitaphs to honor prominent citizens of Portsmouth upon their deaths.

Gates Street is a beautiful place for a quiet walk! The area became rundown and neglected during the late 1800s but has been restored beautifully. Most of the buildings are originals built more than two centuries ago.