Friday, July 27, 2012

C. S. Gurney’s Photography Studio

The commercial building that included C. S. Gurney’s offices and photography studio stood on the north side of Congress Street, a block west of the Vaughan Mall.

I idly looked for this building for months while walking Portsmouth’s streets and  documenting other locations. Its distinctive features include four bay windows on the second floor, eight windows with triangular pediments on the third floor, and geometric designs – circles, rectangles, and diamonds.

The building seemed familiar to me but I never did find it, not even a heavily-modified version.

After a frustrating search, I found a few postcards and photographs on Portsmouth Athenaeum's Website that show portions of the building. I confirmed the location using the 1905 Portsmouth Directory that gives the address of Canney's Music Store, the first shop on the right, as 67 Congress Street. At that time, the Franklin Block was listed as 43 Congress Street and the YMCA (now Sake Japanese Restaurant) was 83 Congress Street.

This Athenaeum photograph shows the old Langdon Hotel that once stood on the northwest corner of Congress Street and Vaughan Street (now Vaughan Mall). The C. S. Gurney building is next door to the left. It is in the right foreground of this photograph looking west up Congress Street towards the old YMCA building.

The commercial building in the old photograph is from C. S. Gurney’s 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. This extensive photographic survey of the city is an invaluable resource for my WalkPortsmouth blog. At the time the book was published, Gurney’s offices and studio occupied the top two floors of this building. Caleb Stevens Gurney lived from 1848-1924. He became a resident of Portsmouth in 1889 and worked at the Portsmouth Shoe Company.  He retired to Boston later in life. 

On the ground floor, the shop on the right was Canney’s Music Store. According to the 1905 Portsmouth Directory, they sold and tuned pianos and organs, and also offered photographic supplies, photos, pictures, and picture framing.
Next to it was the fruit and confectionary shop of Joseph Dondero. A. G. Sides & Company, a Millinery shop, was next, and the leftmost shop was owned by P. J. Flanagan.

This is the approximate location of C. S. Gurney's studio, between the 
Vaughn Mall and the Sake Japanese Restaurant.

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