Friday, July 12, 2013

Nathaniel Walker House

The Nathaniel Walker House, sometimes called the Arthur W. Walker House, is located at 171 Middle Street, on the east side between Court Street and Richards Avenue. The Samuel Larkin House, at 180 Middle Street, is directly across the street.

This house was built for Nathaniel Walker in 1857-1860. Nathaniel Kennard Walker, a Portsmouth native born in 1807, was a ship owner and proprietor of a hat shop on Congress Street, opened around 1837. 

During his lifetime, Nathaniel married Sarah Ann Pray, and they had eight children from 1839 to 1856. He died in 1880.

The home was inherited by their youngest of five sons, Arthur Willard Walker, born in 1855, who married Mary Louise Foster around 1887 and had two children: Willard Foster Walker and Geraldine Walker.

During the late 1800s, the Walkers became rich coal barons. Charles E. Walker and J. Albert Walker ran a Portsmouth coal wharf as Walker & Co. in 1879. The company broke up the following year, when J. Albert opened his own coal "pocket" in 1880, and Charles' coal pocket began business in 1881. The most successful venture seems to have been one partnered by J. Albert and Arthur W. Walker, the owner of this house, who opened the Portsmouth Coal Pocket around 1893.

Wealthy Arthur W. Walker built an impressive stone summer cottage near the banks of the Sagamore Creek. The bungalow no longer exists; however, the street is still known as the Walker Bungalow Road.

The Walker House on Middle Street was extensively remodeled in the Colonial Revival Style around 1900. Four years after Arthur's death in 1906, the house became the property of Oskar Aichel, who was the brewmaster at the Portsmouth Brewing Company

The black-and-white photographs above were published in C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. The house looks remarkably similar today and currently serves as the law offices of Attorneys Harry N. Starbranch and Stephen T. Jeffco.

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