Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shapley-Drisco House

The Shapley-Drisco House, or the Drisco House, is located on the north side of Puddle Lane (formerly Charles Street), on the east end near Marcy Street. The building is on the property of Strawbery Banke Museum.

The first home to occupy this lot was built in the 1690s. 

John Shapley replaced the original building with this one in 1794 and moved in with his wife, Catherine Huntress, and their three daughters. John owned a small ship that he used for commercial fishing and transporting goods, and like so many Portsmouth residents, ran a shop out of his home. His brother, another Portsmouth mariner, lived a block away in the Reuben Shapley HouseJohn Shapley only lived here for five years before selling the house to a fellow mariner, James Drisco.

Drisco owned a wharf with warehouses across Marcy Street, a shop on Horse Lane, and several nearby dwelling houses, including the Lowd HouseJames Drisco lived here until his death in 1812. 

His widow and a son, Joshua Drisco, continued living here for another forty years. Joshua was a mariner like his father, shipping local goods on the Piscatqua River and eventually becoming an international see captain. He died in the 1850s, and the house sold out of the Drisco family.

The home was converted to a two-family duplex around 1900 and abandoned to Urban Renewal development in 1957. The old photographs on this page are from 1961, when the National Park Service was performing Historic American Building Surveys (HABS) in Portsmouth. The building to the left (west) of the Shapley-Drisco House in the 1961 and 2012 photographs is the Sherburne House before and after restoration.

For me, the two exhibits in the Shapley-Drisco House at Strawbery Banke are some of the most interesting at the museum. On the right side is a reimagined store the way it might have looked when the Shapley family ran a shop here. On the left side is a recreation of a "modern" 1950s home. 

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