Tuesday, November 26, 2013

John E. Sise House

The Sise House, for years known as the Sise Inn, is located at 40 Court Street, on the southeast side of Haymarket Square, where Court and Middle Streets intersect.

Before 1881, a three-story Federal mansion stood in this location on the south side of Court Street. Built in 1798 as an L-house for Charles Treadwell, the last owner was the family of L. E. Marsh.

John E. Sise became a relative by marriage of the Marsh family when he wed Lucy Maria Marsh in 1857. The couple had four children, born from 1862-1876. After purchasing the Marsh family mansion in 1879, they immediately had it removed. By 1881, they had replaced it with the current Stick Style house, an elaborate Queen Anne home.

John Sise was an insurance agent with an office in the Peirce Block, where Foye's Store (left) relocated after his death. He served as a proprietor of the nearby Portsmouth Athenaeum from 1865 until 1898.

His eldest child, Mabel Sise, later owned the house. She married Alfred Gooding, a minister of the South Church, in 1887. Reverend Gooding served the parish for thirty-seven years, was president of the Portsmouth Historical Society, and a proprietor of the Portsmouth Athenaeum from 1922 until his death in 1934. While living in the Sise House, Reverend Gooding built an addition that doubled the size of the original home. 

In his book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, C. S. Gurney refers to this house as the “modern Sise dwelling”. It was only twenty-one years old when he included it in a photograph of Haymarket Square (below). The enlarged close-up of the Sise House in 1902 shows how remarkably similar it looks today.

The John E. Sise House opened as the Sise Inn with thirty-four guest rooms in 1986. It was sold to new owners in November 2013 and will soon reopen as The Hotel Portsmouth.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wallace Hackett House

The Wallace Hackett House address is 351 Middle Street, on the southwest corner of Middle Street and Miller Avenue.

Construction of this elaborate Colonial Revivalist house for Wallace Hackett began in 1891 and completed in 1892. The architect, a Portsmouth native named Harry Ball who worked out of Boston, also remodeled the Portsmouth Atheneaum's Reading Room in 1892 and designed the 1895 Cottage Hospital.

Wallace Hackett was destined to be a lawyer when he was born in 1856. His father, a lawyer named William Henry Hackett, was the son of another lawyer and politician named William H. Y. Hackett. The elder Hackett lived on Congress Street for more than fifty years, and after his death in 1878, his home became the city's Y.M.C.A. Building.

My knowledge of Wallace Hackett is limited to his civic record. He was a director of the First National Bank, a trustee of the Piscataqua Savings Bank, and a director of the Concord & Portsmouth Railroad. He became a member of the Federal Fire Society of Portsmouth in 1883. During a short term as Portsmouth's Mayor from 1907-1908, Hackett played a key role in preserving the Aldrich House and creating a permanent memorial to the author, Thomas Bailey Aldrich.

The vintage photograph above was published in James A. Wood's 1895 book, New Hampshire Homes, just three years after the home was constructed. The old photo below is from C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque.

St. John’s Lodge No. 1, the oldest continuously-active Masonic Lodge in the United States, purchased the Wallace Hackett House in 1920. The Masonic Temple behind the original home was constructed in 1928.