Friday, August 30, 2013

Shapiro House

The Shapiro House, sometimes called the Dr. John Jackson House or the Augustus Odiorne House, is located on the southwest corner of Jefferson and Atkinson Streets within the boundaries of Strawbery Banke Museum.

This house was built in 1795 for Dr. John Jackson to use as a home and apothecary. Dr. Jackson, a Portsmouth native and son of Deacon Daniel Jackson, served as the ship’s surgeon aboard the Raleigh, a Continental Navy warship commanded by Captain Thomas Thompson in 1777. After Dr. Jackson's death in the early 1800s, his widow continued to live here. The building was later subdivided, and by 1894 was a two-family rental property.

The story of the Shapiros begins with Abraham Millhander, a Jewish man who was born in the Ukraine of Russia. When he was a young man, Abraham followed the example of his older brothers, Simon and Samuel, by emigrating to the United States. His siblings had adopted the more Americanized name of Shapiro, so after reuniting with them, he became Abraham Shapiro.

In 1905, he married Shiva (Sarah) Tapper, his sister-in-law. Abraham and Sarah Shapiro moved to Portsmouth in 1909, the same year their daughter, Mollie Mary Shapiro, was born. 

At the time, this area of the city was known as Puddle Dock. It was a melting pot of Irish, English, Canadian, Italian, Polish, and Russian immigrants, as well as native-born Americans.

Abraham was an active member of the local Temple of Israel and was instrumental in the negotiations for the purchase of the Methodist Church on State Street in 1912. The building remains the Temple Israel synagogue to this day.

Abraham made his living working in shoe shops and factories. After the end of World War I, he owned a Portsmouth pawnshop. The Shapiro family sold the home in 1928.

The Shapiro House was recorded by the National Park Service's Historic American Building Survey (HABS) in 1961. Strawbery Banke Museum restored it in 1996-1997.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Yeaton-Walsh House

The Yeaton-Walsh House, a property of Strawbery Banke Museum, is located on the north side of Puddle Lane, between Atkinson Street and Mast Lane. 

Winn-Yeaton Houses
The large lot bordered by Jefferson Street, Atkinson Street, Puddle Lane, and Mast Lane was purchased by Thales G. Yeaton in 1794. Within a year, Yeaton and his brother-in-law, Timothy Winn III, built a pair of houses bordering Jefferson Street. Their connected homes are known as the Yeaton House and the Winn House.

Thales Yeaton also built the Yeaton-Walsh House at about the same time. Located on the southern side of the lot, the building was rented to local workers involved with the merchant trade, like craftsmen, seamen, and laborers. Michael Walsh was a sawyer  he was employed to saw wood  and lived here around 1850.

The Yeaton-Walsh House has not been restored. Its front lawn borders Puddle Lane and is a pleasant spot for a picnic. 

Unfortunately, I have not found a single photograph that shows this property before Strawbery Banke purchased it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Memorial Bridge

A new Memorial Bridge has replaced the original Memorial Bridge at the eastern end of Daniel and State Streets. The bridge is crossed by U.S. Route 1 and connects Portsmouth with Kittery.

Seacoast residents welcomed the new Memorial Bridge after its recent opening by driving, bicycling, jogging, and walking across. It seemed like half the population Portsmouth and Kittery traversed the new span over that first weekend, delighted that the two cities are once again joined together.

I was one of them! For the first time in two years, I walked from Portsmouth to Badger Island and Kittery. A round-trip only takes about fifteen minutes, but while I was in Maine, I took the opportunity to have dinner at Warren’s Lobster House.

View from Warren's Lobster House
I was surprised by some of the differences from the old bridge. Thanks in part to modern building materials, the new Memorial Bridge seems lightweight and flimsy compared with the heavy iron of the original. It is a truss bridge with crisscrossing beams overhead, a bike path so riders no longer have to walk their bikes across, and pedestrian sidewalks on both sides of the roadway.

Perhaps its most distinctive feature are the huge anchor chains that counterbalance the ropes used to raise and lower the heavy counterweights.

Old Bridge Walkway

I was surprised to discover that, unlike the old bridge, the sidewalks are not separated from the roadway by barriers or the supporting beams, which are now outside the bridge surface. This might create a safety hazard, because I witnessed several people jaywalking from one side of the bridge to the other – dodging traffic in order to see the view from the other side.

New Bridge Walkway
There are no crosswalks on the bridge or on the Maine side, and the nearest crosswalks on the New Hampshire side are the usual ones that connect Daniel and State Streets. Also, because of the heavy foot traffic, the sidewalk was sometimes blocked by people taking pictures of their friends and family, walkers with dogs, and young families with strollers. These sometimes required others to step off the sidewalk onto the bike path in order to pass, causing frustration for bike riders when their path was blocked.

I'm sure the Departments of Transportation will soon add the finishing touches to the bridge approaches, including a memorial park on the New Hampshire side for the original commemorative plaques, and the new Memorial Bridge will be in operation for many years to come.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Winn House

The Winn House is the east half of the Winn-Yeaton Connected Houses, located on the southeast corner of Jefferson Street and Mast Lane, on the property of the Strawbery Banke Museum.

Timothy Winn III, a trader by trade, was married to the sister of Thales G. Yeaton. In 1794, Yeaton purchased this lot in the South End for the purpose of building his family a home. Within two weeks, Winn purchased the east half of the lot as a site for his own home. The two brothers-in-law then separately built themselves two houses that shared a common wall. Construction of their connected houses was completed around 1795. 

Timothy Winn ran a shop on Buck (now State) Street with his name over the door: “Timothy Winn 3d”. A ‘d’ in Colonial America represented a penny (like 3¢), so the proprietor became known as “Three-Penny Winn”. 

Sadly, Winn contracted tuberculosis, known as ‘consumption’ at the time, and died less than ten years after moving into this house. He was only thirty-nine.

The black-and-white photograph above is courtesy of the Library of Congress Digital Collections and was taken in 1961 for an Historic American Buildings Survey. As you can tell from my 2013 updated shots, the Yeaton-end of the Winn-Yeaton Connected Houses has not been restored. The Winn House, however, looks good as new, but the presence of trees and beehives have forced me to take my picture from a different angle.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Yeaton House

Yeaton House, the west half of the Winn-Yeaton Connected Houses, is located on the southeast corner of Jefferson Street and Mast Lane, in Strawbery Banke Museum.

Thales G. Yeaton, a Portsmouth trader, purchased this large lot in 1794, when he was 24-years-old. Within two weeks, he sold the east side of the lot to his brother-in-law, Timothy Winn III, who was thirty years old and also employed as a trader. 

The two men immediately began building their adjoining houses, which were probably completed in 1795. 

As a trader, Yeaton protested the Jay’s Treaty, a controversial trade agreement between the United States and Great Britain. He joined a group of demonstrators who peacefully marched through the streets of Portsmouth, including Market Square, in September 1795. That evening, an unruly mob burned effigies and smashed windows downtown, and all of the afternoon marchers, including Thales Yeaton, were ordered to appear in court in Exeter. He had nothing to do with the mob vandalism, however, so all of the charges against him were dropped. 

Later in life, he ran a successful tobacconist shop on State Street and became a real estate speculator.

Like many Portsmouth homes of the period, the Yeaton House was built with a small shop in one of the front rooms. A later owner was also a trader, named Joseph Amazeen, and his wife, Lydia.

The black-and-white photographs above are courtesy of the Library of Congress Digital Collections and were taken in 1961 for an Historic American Buildings Survey. As you can tell from my 2013 update shots, the Yeaton-end of the Winn-Yeaton Connected Houses has not been restored.