Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nathan Parker House

The Nathan Parker House is a three-story brick building located at 46 Livermore Street opposite Haven Park.

Although a plaque claims this house dates from 1810, the South Parish actually constructed it in 1815. They built the home with bricks to comply with the controversial “Brick Act”,  a state law passed after the Great Portsmouth Fire of 1813 to prevent future catastrophic fires in the city.

The stately home was a wedding present for the South Parish’s minister, Reverend  Doctor Nathan Parker, upon his marriage to Susan Pickering, the daughter of New Hampshire Chief Justice John Pickering and a descendant of the original John Pickering.

Reverend Parker was pastor of the South Church for twenty-five years, from 1808 until his death in 1833. During his ministry in Portsmouth, he introduced Unitarianism and moved the congregation from the Old South Church (see South Meeting House) to the Stone Church on State Street.

Reverend Nathan Parker, the first Unitarian minister in Portsmouth, should not be confused with Reverend Noah Parker, the first Universalist minister in Portsmouth who lived in Noah’s Ark on Daniel Street and in the Noah Parker House on Market Street.

Although the South Parish had originally intended to board all of their future ministers here, Noah Parker and his wife purchased the house towards the end of his life, and it became a private home.

A Portsmouth merchant named Stephen E. Simes bought it from Reverend Parker’s widow in 1834. Captain Thomas Tarlton purchased the home from Simes in 1843. From 1914-1915, Reverend L. Weston Attwood lived here, and then the Wendell family (see Jacob Wendell House) owned the house from 1919-1968.

The original picture from C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, shows the Livermore House on the left and the Nathan Parker House on the right. At the time of this writing, the Nathan Parker house is for sale.

For more on the controversial Reverend Nathan Parker, I recommend this excellent article at SeacoastNH.com by J. Dennis Robinson:

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