Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sweetser's Store

The J. P. Sweetser Store was on the west side of Market Street, near the corner of Market and Hanover Streets.

Sweetser's appliance store was a local institution for more than forty years, yet very little information about the business is available. The establishment was originally opened in 1844 by E. A. Stevens. John P. Sweetser, a Portsmouth native, took over in 1869 and the store was Sweetser's until almost 1920. The store occupied all five floors and employed at least twelve skilled tinsmiths, coppersmiths, and sheet-iron workers.

The advertisement above appeared on the last page of The Portsmouth Directory in 1905, which included Sweetser's under the categories Hot Water Heating, Plumbers, Refrigerators, Stoves, Furnaces, and Ranges. The store was listed in Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of New Hampshire (1887) as “Kitchen Furnishings, Stoves, Ranges and Furnaces. Plumbing, Gas Piping and Tin Roofing."

According to annual city auditor reports, Portsmouth purchased supplies and services from John P. Sweetser's store until at least 1906. Starting around 1908, the store is listed under the name John  G. Sweetser, who was likely his son, and his name appears in city auditor reports until around 1919.

The original photograph above appeared in C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. It is a tight shot that gives us few clues about its location. The Portsmouth Directory of 1905 places the Sweetser's at 46 Market Street, near the corner of Hanover Street. The guide also lists H. C. Hopkins' store (now Portsmouth Brewery) as 30 Market Street, and W. E. Paul's store (now Macro Polo) as 39-45 Market Street.

My 2013 photograph shows the southwest corner of Market and Hanover Streets. I believe Sweester's was either located here, or on the northwest corner, on the opposite side of Hanover Street.

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