Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peacock House

The Peacock House, sometimes referred to as the Sarah Cotton House, is located at the northeast corner of Atkinson and Jefferson Streets, on the property of Strawbery Banke Museum.

This small house is believed to have been built by Theodore Parker in 1821. The wooden structure conformed with the Brick Act, passed after the Great Fire of 1813, because it was only 1½-stories high. 

Parker almost immediately sold the house to Reuben Shapley, a wealthy Portsmouth mariner, merchant, and shipbuilder. Like many of the other properties Shapley owned, such as the Shapley Townhouse, this house became a rental property.

The home is named for Grace Peacock, who purchased it in 1842. She married Ashel Chase around 1850, and this building became the home of Ashel, Grace, and their three children, as well as another family: a widow named Mary Marston and her three-year-old son. 

Strawbery Banke placed demarcation lines and signs on the south side of the building that explain additions made to the house over the years. The left (westernmost) line marks the original dimensions of the Peacock House.

The center section depicts an addition built around 1880. This photograph of the Peacock House from the Portsmouth Athenaeum shows its configuration around 1900. The building as it looks today includes a second floor that was added onto the back of the house, above the 1880 addition, around 1940.

The old photograph below was taken in 1961 for an Historical American Building Survey (HABS) of the Peacock House. 
The building in the left background is also the same in both photographs: the Gookin House.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jackson House

The Jackson House, sometimes known as the Samuel Jackson or Joshua Jackson House, is situated on the southeast corner of Horse Lane and Jefferson Street, on the property of Strawbery Banke Museum.

The Jackson family is one of the oldest in Portsmouth. They owned the property surrounding this house from 1695-1800. Joshua Jackson lived here before the American Revolution. When he died in 1766, the property was divided between his heirs, including a home on this site that was shared by Nathaniel and Samuel Jackson.

The original Jackson family home that stood here was replaced by the current building around 1795-1800. It was probably built by Samuel Jackson, who was a joiner. In 1800, Samuel sold his portion of the house to Nathaniel, and Nathaniel subsequently sold the home to William Dennett, a spar maker from Kittery, Maine. 

The house changed ownership several times between 1805 and 1815.
I have been unable to find a vintage photograph of this building.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hough House

Hough House, also known as the Captain Thomas Hough House, sits on the northeast corner of Horse Lane (formerly Liberty Street) and Jefferson Street, in Strawbery Banke Museum.

The original, smaller house on this lot was constructed in 1750. By 1813, there were two structures here: the original house and a separate barn or stable. 

During the residency of a ship’s carpenter named Thomas Hough, who lived here from 1851-1896, the two buildings were combined into one large home, probably around 1860. At the time, Captain Hough tried running a ship chandlery here, but his experiment proved unsuccessful.

There are no references to Thomas Hough or his house in my trusted resources. The 1905 Portsmouth Directory lists “Hough, George F” as a ship’s carpenter who was living on Woodbury Avenue at the time. He was likely a son of Thomas Hough.

The old photographs on this page were taken in 1961 for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) of the Captain Thomas Hough House. 

The building is currently occupied by Malloy Athans Inc., a commercial design studio, and All E.A.R.S. (Educational Audiology Resource & Services).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Army and Navy Association Building

The old Army and Navy Association Building, later known as the Portsmouth Community Center and the Connie Bean Community Center, is located at 143 Daniel Street, on the southeast corner of Daniel and Chapel Streets.

The Abraham Staples House once stood on this corner. A two-story dwelling with a configuration similar to many other homes in the city, it was torn town before 1916. At the time of this writing, I cannot find any information about Abraham Staples, and the only photograph I have located of the home is this Portsmouth Athenaeum photographic record.

The cornerstone of the building that would become the Connie Bean Community Center was laid in 1916 and construction was completed in 1917.

During World War I, work was booming at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and the Army and Navy Association Building was constructed to serve as a recreation center for military personnel when not on duty. During World War II, the building served as a United Service Organization (USO) Center.

Following WWII, the building was released from active duty and became a civic recreational building called the Portsmouth Community Center. Starting from the outset in 1946, the building was a popular place for amateur athletics and youth gatherings,  as well as art and sports classes. Two second-floor meeting rooms were constantly in use by civic and charitable organizations.

The old black-and-white photograph below appeared in Portsmouth's Annual Report for 1945-1947. A caption below the picture reads, "Portsmouth's New Community Center, Daniels Street". My photographs were taken during a Portsmouth walk on December 9, 2012, after the recreational department had vacated the building.

In 1951, the Community Center was extensively renovated and new bleachers that were donated by the Army and Navy Association of Portsmouth were installed. The following year, according to Portsmouth's Annual Report for 1952, "the Community Center was used by approximately 35,000 people during the course of the year. A total of 35 organizations held regularly scheduled weekly or monthly meetings in the two second floor meeting rooms. Annual social functions such as the Policemen’s Ball, Firemen’s Ball and Elk’s Ball were held. An adult basketball league and adult badminton league were in operation each week during the winter season. Classes were held in photography, art, boxing, arts and crafts, children and adult archery." The popular venue also hosted a children's basketball league, a table tennis tournament, and teenage dances every Saturday night during the winter.

The Community Center also served as the Ward Five voting place until 1973, when voting was moved to the Little Harbour School. The facility was renamed the ‘Connie Bean Community Center’ after that long-serving and beloved recreation department employee died in 1984.

The old building decayed over the years, forcing the city to close the second-floor meeting rooms and the basement for safety reasons in 2008. According to this Seacoastonline.com article, Portsmouth sold the old Army and Navy Association Building at auction to the Hampshire Development Corp. in December 2012. The Connie Bean Community Center is now located in an extension of the redeveloped Portsmouth Middle School at 155 Parrott Avenue.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

McIntosh Block

The McIntosh Block is located at 62 Congress Street, on the southwest corner of Fleet and Congress Streets.

The first building to stand on this corner was a one-story home with two rooms owned by an eccentric but good-humored gentleman named Joseph Moses. Although known as “Doctor Moses”, he was actually a house carpenter. He, his wife, and his nine children lived in one room; the other room was occupied by the family cow. After Doctor Moses died, his widow ran a school at this location during the Revolutionary War.

The gambrel-roofed building that appeared in C. S. Gurney’s 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque (below) was originally the home of Nathaniel Dean, who built the house around 1783 and lived here for nearly forty years. Before construction of the McIntosh Block (left) in 1919, the property was known as the Dean Building.

The home was later owned by Willis Barnabee, one of the talented stagecoach drivers, known as Whips or "Knights of the Whip", who worked the Boston-to-Portsmouth-to-Portland circuit. It was Barnabee who had the honor of chauffeuring the Marquis de Lafayette up Route 1 from Boston to Portsmouth in 1824. The road has been known as Lafayette Road (or Lafayette Highway) ever since. Willis Barnabee's son, Henry Clay Barnabee, was born in the Dean Building in 1833 and became a famous comic actor and singer, known as “The Dean of Comic Opera”. He talks about his hometown in his biography, My Wanderings: Reminiscences of Henry Clay Barnabee, published in 1913.

The Dean Building was later occupied by the bakery of George W. Plummer, as seen in this Portsmouth Athenaeum photograph. The 1902 picture below shows a cobbler’s shop, but the photo is out of focus, and I have been unable to determine the name or the proprietor.

A plaque on the current McIntosh Block indicates that the building was constructed in 1919 by a Portsmouth merchant named D. H. McIntosh. The retail space fronting Congress Street has been occupied by the Portsmouth Candle Company for a number of  years.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rogers Building

The Rogers Building was located on the south side of Congress Street between Church and Fleet Streets, opposite Congress Block.

A sign beside the door describes this area as part of the Glebe lands, "leased lots provided by the North Church Parish". A previous home built here belonged to Thomas Phipps, the first public school teacher in Portsmouth.

The Rogers Building was named for Reverend Nathaniel Rogers, pastor of the North Church from 1697-1723.

In October 1704, his home on Pleasant Street accidentally caught fire and burned to the ground. The tragedy took the lives of his mother-in-law, his 17-month-old daughter, and a female servant who was an African slave. With church assistance, he constructed a new house here on Congress Street one year after the fire. His home consisted of the upper two floors of the building shown in the old photograph below. Reverend Rogers died in 1723 and is buried in the Point of Graves burial ground.

In 1871, the home was sold out of the Rogers family. The new owners raised the building one level and constructed retail space beneath it. The first floor of the old Rogers Building, which was demolished years ago, had shops that were very similar to those that can still be found on Market Street. 

The old photograph below appeared in C. S. Gurney’s 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. At that time, the left (east) retail shop was occupied by Baldwin A. Reich’s Portsmouth Fancy Bakery. His awning advertises, “Robeck’s Famous Orange And Wedding Cake”. He also sold ice cream and sherbets.

The right (west) retail shop held W. F. & C. E. Woods’ Harness Manufactory. Originally owned by John S. Tilton, mayor of Portsmouth in 1898, the business opened in 1868 and specialized in horse tack, including blankets, bridles, collars, fly nets, halters, harnesses, and saddles. 

After William F. Woods and Charles E. Woods purchased the business, their wares included bicycles and luggage.  In the 1905 Portsmouth Directory, the shop was listed under the following categories: Bicycles, Carriage Trimmers, Horse Clothing, Suit Cases, Trunks and Valises. The Woods also owned a shop on Porter Street where they sold automobiles.

The current building was constructed a few years ago. The retail space is occupied by Good Vibes, a 'Genuine Neighborhood Shop' that carries the Life is Good® brand, and Kilwins', a chocolate, fudge, and ice cream shop.

East of the Rogers Building, on the corner of Congress and Church Streets where Popovers on the Square is located today, lived  Hunking Wentworth. He was an American patriot who served as the chairman of Portsmouth's  branch of the Committee of Public Safety, a pre-Revolutionary War group opposed to British rule. The Committee, whose predecessor was the Sons of Liberty, held their meetings at his home. 

Amazingly, despite his zealous support of American Independence, many members of Hunking Wentworth's family governed the Royal Province of New Hampshire. His father, John Hunking Wentworth, was Lieutenant Governor, his brother was Governor Benning Wentworth, and his nephew was Governor John Wentworth, the last Royal Governor of the province.

For many years, the Portsmouth's Colonial Theater stood between Hunking Wentworth's home and the Rogers Building, as shown in this Portsmouth Athenaeum photograph: Crowd in Front of Colonial Theater.