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.

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