Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lowd House

The Lowd House is on the property of Strawbery Banke Museum, on the northwest corner of Puddle Lane (formerly Charles Street) and Horse Lane.

James Drisco was a prosperous Portsmouth merchant mariner who owned a wharf with warehouses and shops on the east side of Marcy Street. He lived on Puddle Lane across the street from his waterfront property, in another Strawbery Banke building, the Shapley-Drisco House. His holdings around Puddle Dock included a nearby shop on the west side of Horse Lane and three rental properties.

One of his rentals is now known as the Lowd House, which he built around 1810. James Drisco died in 1812, and in 1824, his widow sold this building to Peter Lowd, a Portsmouth cooper – a barrel maker. Lowd lived here with his wife and five children until his death just thirteen years later, in 1837.

Peter Lowd was not important enough to be in any of the usual Portsmouth reference books. Just a man who lived, had a family, worked hard to support them, and died young.

When C. S. Gurney published my favorite resource, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque in 1902, the Lowd House was not included. For years during the late 1800s and early 20th Century, this area of the city had been a marine and industrial area filled with warehouses, wharves, rundown tenement houses, pubs, and brothels. There were very few buildings around Puddle Dock worthy of inclusion in a photographic record of Portsmouth.

The archival photograph above is included in an Historic American Building Survey (HABS) from 1961.

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