Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shillaber House

The Shillaber House was located at the north end of Langdon Street, on the west side.

View of North Mill Pond from Langdon Street
The Shillaber House was a modest, one-family home off of Islington Street. On July 12, 1814, it became the birthplace of Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber, a once-famous humorist and author. His family kept a large garden behind their house beside the waters of the North Mill Pond, which at that time covered the railroad tracks that exist today.

Shillaber lived from 1814-1890. He began working in a Portsmouth printing office in 1830. After moving to Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1832, he worked in the newspaper business, becoming an editor for the Boston Post in 1838. It was here that he wrote a short news filler featuring an imaginary woman named Mrs. Partington who was notorious for using malapropisms.

Benjamin Shillaber created a humor magazine, The Carpet-Bag, in 1851 that gave Mrs. Partington and her humorous adventures a home for two years. He spent the decade of 1856-1866 working on the staff of Boston's Saturday Evening Gazette. During his lifetime, he compiled many of his stories into a number of books, including Life and Sayings of Mrs. Partington, Ike Partington, and Mrs. Partington's Carpet-Bag of Fun.

The Shillaber House still existed in 1902, when the above photograph appeared in C. S. Gurney's Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque
Today, the location is home to the oldest electrical contractor in Portsmouth, Regan Electric Company, Inc.

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