Thursday, March 7, 2013

Old County Court House

The Old County Court House was once located on the south side of Court Street, between Fleet and Church Streets, where the northeast corner of Portsmouth’s Central Fire Station currently stands. 

During Colonial times, before the American Revolution, the New Hampshire Provincial Government was based in Portsmouth. Meetings were held in the old State House, which stood in the middle of Market Square between the North Church and the Peirce Block. The building served as a court house until it was dismantled in 1836. The local courts then moved to a new building on Jaffrey Street, which was immediately renamed Court Street.

The North Church parish leased this lot for an almshouse in 1755. The two-story structure they built remained here until 1836. In that year, Portsmouth constructed this Greek Revival building to serve as the Rockingham County Court House. Its basement was used as a high school for girls and later as a grammar school. The county court remained in this building from 1836-1891, when a new, modern facility was constructed on State Street. At that time, this building became home to Company B, Second Regiment, of the New Hampshire National Guard and the Portsmouth City Band.

The vintage photograph above was captured around 1907 by the Detroit Publishing Company and was downloaded from the Library of Congress Digital Collections

The Old County Court House was moved south, to the southwest corner of this lot, when the current Portsmouth Central Fire Station was constructed. Ironically, the court house was damaged by fire soon after and demolished.

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