Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark, also known as the Hart House, was located on the southwest corner of Daniel and Penhallow Streets, west of the Old Custom House and Post Office.

The home was built around 1740. The first known owner was Wyseman Claggett, an irascible lawyer who came to Portsmouth in 1758 when he was appointed King’s Attorney. He married Lettice Mitchell (the fiancée of Nathaniel Warner) in 1759, and they lived here until 1761.

Stoodley's Tavern
On January 25, 1761, a fire in a barber shop on Daniel Street spread to the original Stoodley's Tavern, on the north side of Daniel Street, and then leaped across the street to the Claggett’s house. The blaze completely destroyed James Stoodley’s inn and so severely damaged the Claggett home that they moved to Congress Street.

Claggett later supported the American independence movement and held the office of New Hampshire’s Solicitor General until 1784.

Blacksmith and whitesmith Noah Parker resided here during the American Revolutionary War years. Parker was a very religious man, and his large home became known as “Noah’s Ark.” Penhallow Street was originally called Ark Street, named after Noah’s Ark. Reverend Parker moved to the Noah Parker House on Market Street around 1784, when he became the first Universalist minister in Portsmouth.

Hart House
Jacob Sheafe, a wealthy landowner and father of Thomas Sheafe, purchased Noah’s Ark in 1791 for his daughter, Hannah, and her new husband, Hugh Henderson. After Henderson died, his widow married William Hart. The Harts lived in a corner apartment and ran a shop that faced Daniel Street.

Mrs. Hart lived in the Hart House until she died in 1845 at the age of 99.

The photograph above of Noah’s Ark, which at the time was known as the Hart House, appeared in C. S. Gurney’s 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. Today, the location is a parking lot.

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