Tuesday, June 26, 2012

National Mechanics & Traders' Bank

The former National Mechanics & Traders' Bank building is at 31 Market Street, on the southeast corner of Market Street and Commercial Alley.

A two-story residence stood on this corner from 1750 until 1802. For many years, it was the home of Benjamin Dearborn, inventor of the Dearborn Gold Standard Balance. In 1780, Dearborn opened a private school in a large room of his home. His was the first school in Portsmouth that allowed girls to attend classes as well as boys. Eventually his school became so popular that he built an Academy behind his house. More than a hundred students attended, and he hired assistant teachers to help him. The school closed when he moved to Boston in the early 1790s.

The entire property burned to the ground during the inferno known as the Great Portsmouth Parade Fire of 1802.

Records for these brick buildings on Market Street are difficult to find. This one was probably built within one year after the 1802 fire. For around seventy-five years, it served as a bank building.

The Commercial Bank opened here in 1825 and was succeeded by the Mechanics & Traders' Bank in 1845.

Business must have been booming, because in 1864 the name changed to the National Mechanics & Traders' Bank. The old photograph below from 1902 shows how this building looked back at the turn of the 19th Century.

The National Mechanics & Traders Bank remained in business until the 1930s, although it moved to the Fay Block on Congress Street in the early 1900s.

The Paper Patch sold fine stationery here from 1981 until they moved across the street in 2009. The building is currently occupied by an innovative
clothing store called I Like That;).


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