Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Pearl

The Pearl, also known as The Portsmouth Pearl, is located at 45 Pearl Street, on the southeast corner of Hanover and Pearl Streets. Former names have included the Free Will Baptist Church, the Pearl Street Baptist Church, the Peoples Baptist Church, the New Hope Church, and the Pearl Street Church.

The Pearl was built by the Free-Will Baptist Church in 1857-1858 as a 40-foot by 50-foot meetinghouse without a steeple. The building was extensively remodeled and expanded in 1866, including the addition of the steeple and its current exterior.

The Free Will Baptist Church combined with the Middle Street Baptist Church in 1915 and left The Pearl. The People’s Baptist Church, an African-American congregation, purchased the building and moved here from the South Meeting House. More interior renovations were made, and the People's Baptist Church opened in June 1915.

The original steeple was replaced sometime during the early 1900s with the current steeple.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon here on October 26, 1952, titled “Going Forward by Going Backward.” A choir from Malden, Massachusetts sang during the services, including a soloist named Coretta Scott. A year later, Reverend King and Coretta Scott married.

During the 1970s through the early 1980s, the church reorganized as the New Hope Church.

In 1984, the building became the 72 Restaurant. Today it is known as The Portsmouth Pearl and serves as a function room hosted by a catering service.

The Pearl is listed on the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Walk Dublin

St. Michan's Church

My wife and I spent May 16-23 walking the streets of Dublin, Ireland. We rode an AirLink bus from the airport to our hotel and never used another form of transport except our feet until our visit was over.

Dublin’s ancient buildings are amazing!  While the oldest existing structure in Portsmouth, the Richard Jackson House, was built in 1664, Dublin boasts churches constructed almost 500 years earlier.
St. Audeon's Chruch

St. Audeon’s Church dates from 1190. St. Michan’s Church began as a Viking chapel in 1095 and was reconstructed in 1686. Building after building dates from the 19th Century or earlier. Some of Dublin’s highlights include:

Brazen Head Pub

Aras an Uachtarain – the Irish President’s house was built in 1751

Ashtown Castle – a medieval tower house constructed during the 1600s

Brazen Head – the oldest pub in Ireland first opened in 1198

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral – founded around 1028, the cathedral was extensively renovated between 1871-1878

Dublin Castle – the oldest parts were constructed during the 1200s

Kilmainham Gaol – built in 1796

St. Patrick’s Cathedral – construction of the largest church in Ireland began during the 1200s

Trinity College – founded in 1592, the oldest buildings date from 1712


Guinness Plant

I enjoyed Dublin, but the city is a closed and walled community. Almost every park, public building, and private home is walled or fenced off and locked when not in use. No matter where you walk in the city, there is almost inevitably an eight-foot or higher wall on at least one side of you, high wrought-iron fences, and locked gates.

Croppies' Acre Park

Although sunset was not until 9 o’clock at night, most city parks were closed and locked tight by 4 o’clock. No entry is allowed until 9-10 o’clock the next morning.

St. Paul's Church
Even churches are fenced and gated. This is probably because “tagging” is epidemic, and there is graffiti on most buildings. Also, watch where you walk: people rarely clean up after their dogs, and the sidewalks are littered with canine feces. Dropped trash gathers in every corner.

Custom House Door

One of Dublin's favorite pub ditties is a sentimental song called “Dirty Old Town”. It was written for an English community, Salford, but has become Dublin’s anthem. The title is an appropriate description of the city. Let’s hope Portsmouth is never described in those terms!

I left my calling card on the wall of the Brazen Head. I shall return!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

U.S. Custom House

The old Federal Building towers over the northwest corner of Pleasant and State Streets.

Old Custom House and Post Office

The Rockingham Bank previously stood on this corner. The United States constructed the current building in 1857-1860 and moved the custom house and post office here from their previous location on the southeast corner of Daniel and Penhallow Streets.

According to Richard M. Candee’s book, Building Portsmouth, this is an Italianate style called a granite palazzo. The U.S. Post Office occupied the first floor, the second floor was the U.S. Custom House, and a court room was on the top floor. An addition was added in 1927.

The building remained Portsmouth’s post office and custom house until the Thomas J. McIntyre Federal building opened at 80 Daniel Street in 1966.

The old photograph is circa 1902 and shows the massive granite building before the addition was constructed in 1927 on the right (north) side.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reverend Samuel Haven House

Reverend Doctor Samuel Haven’s home was located on the south side of Pleasant Street, midway between Edwards and Livermore Streets, in what is now Haven Park.

Samuel Haven was originally from Framingham, Massachusetts and educated at Harvard. His popularity as a preacher brought him invitations from parishes in Brookline and Portsmouth. He chose our South Parish, moved to Portsmouth, and built this house on Pleasant Street in 1751. He was ordained as the minister of the South Church, located where the South Meeting House stands today, on May 6, 1752.

At about this time, he married his first wife, Mehitable Appleton, and they had nine children over the next fifteen years. A year after Mehitable died in 1777, Reverend Haven married a widow named Margaret Marshall. Together, they had an additional six children.

Reverend Haven passed away on March 3, 1806 at the age of 79. His wife, Margaret Haven, attended him on his deathbed, and then she also died a few hours later.

The house to the right of Reverend Haven's home in this 1902 photograph was built in 1799 by Edward Parry, a merchant originally from Wales. Edward Parry is best remembered for almost starting a Portsmouth Tea Party. Six months after the Boston Tea Party, in June 1774, he received twenty-seven chests of tea from Halifax. He immediately returned them untouched in protest of the British Tea Act. After Parry received another thirty chests of tea in September, patriotic Portsmouth residents were so outraged that he was forced to send these back to Halifax as well.

A provision of Samuel Haven's will stipulated that when the last member of his family died, his house was to be razed, and the land and any buildings between Edwards and Livermore Street were to be purchased for the creation of a public park. Accordingly, in 1898 his daughters gave the town $25,000 for the creation and future maintenance of Haven Park. Edward Parry's house was moved to Parrott Street.

The General Fitz John Porter Statue was erected in 1906.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reverend Samuel Langdon House

The Reverend Samuel Langdon House, sometimes called the John K. Pickering House, was located on the west side of Pleasant Street, the third house from the southwest corner of Court and Pleasant Streets. It stood opposite the Governor John Langdon Mansion and next door to the Old Parsonage.

Samuel Langdon House 1902
Portsmouth’s first parsonage and church, an Episcopal chapel, were built on this site around 1638. Both are thought to have been destroyed by fire in 1704. Reverend Samuel Langdon built his parsonage here around 1749.

Samuel Langdon was born in Boston in 1723 and graduated from Harvard College in 1740, along with his classmate, the patriot Samuel Adams. A few years later, he came to Portsmouth to teach grammar school while studying theology.

In 1745, during King George’s War, the third French and Indian War, Samuel Langdon became chaplain to a New Hampshire regiment. These troops besieged the fortress of Louisbourg, the capital of the French province of Île-Royale (now Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia). Their victory brought acclaim to those who had participated and a new bell to the Queen’s Chapel (now St. John’s Church).

When Langdon returned to Portsmouth in November of 1745, the North Parish asked him to assist elderly Reverend Jabez Fitch while continuing to teach grammar school. He married Elizabeth Whipple Brown in 1746, and they had eleven children between 1748 and 1762.

Reverend Langdon was ordained on February 4, 1747, after Reverend Fitch died, and became minister of the North Church. He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1761.

He was a zealous Whig who believed the British government had forgotten the moral lessons of the Ten Commandments. His patriotic sympathies got him elected President of Harvard College. He left Portsmouth for Cambridge in October 1774; however, he resigned six years later after disagreements with students over his religious beliefs. He ministered in Hampton Falls for the rest of his life and died in 1797.

Reverend Samuel Langdon's home still existed in 1907 as seen in the above photograph from the Library of Congress. Today, the location is a driveway into the Citizens Bank of Portsmouth.