Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Whitcomb House

The Whitcomb House formerly stood on the northwest corner of Fleet and State Streets, where the TD Bank building is located today.

The Whitcomb House faced Fleet Street and was built around the time of the American Revolution. Joseph and Mary Pitman owned the home in 1779 when the Royal Governor of the Province of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth, proposed marriage to their daughter.

Molly Pitman was already engaged to a mechanic named Richard Shortridge, so she turned down the governor’s proposal. Her refusal angered Governor Wentworth. Soon after the couple were married, Richard Shortridge was impressed into the Royal Navy by a press gang from a British frigate in Portsmouth Harbor. He was forced to serve for seven years before he managed to escape and returned to his wife.

The house was named after Benjamin Whitcomb, a merchant who ran a candy and ice cream store here for fifty-eight years. His fifteen minutes of fame came in 1847. After the “bad boys” in Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s book, The Story of a Bad Boy, stole an old stagecoach and burned it in a Market Square bonfire, they supposedly ate ice cream at Whitcomb's shop.

The corner of Fleet and Court Streets is now the downtown location of TD Bank. All traces of the home are gone; however, you can see the Rockingham in the left background of both photographs.

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