Friday, June 28, 2013

E. P. Kimball House

The palatial mansion formerly owned by E. P. Kimball is located on the northwest corner of Union and South Streets.

Edward Payson Kimball was born in Warner, New Hampshire on the Fourth of July, 1834. His parents were Reverend Reuben Kimball and Judith (Colby) Kimball. He married Martha Jane Thompson from Wilmot, NH in 1864, and they had three children: Elizabeth, Martha, and Edward. Of these, the best known is Martha Kimball, who supported the women’s suffrage movement and was involved in the Women’s City Club, the N.H. League of Women Voters, and a founder of the Graffort Club, named for Bridget Graffort, who was once the wife of Thomas Daniel.

After serving as a bank clerk, E.P. Kimball was elected the Cashier of the First National Bank of Portsmouth and the Piscataqua Savings Bank from 1872-1882. When the banks' president, former N.H. governor Ichabod Goodwin, died in 1882, Kimball succeeded him and served as bank president of the First National Bank and Piscataqua Savings Bank until 1910.

His impressive house on Union Street was built for him in 1897. 

During his lifetime, E .P. Kimball held many civic and elective offices, including a member of the NH legislature from 1885-1886, City  Alderman, Trustee of the public library, Deacon of the North Church, and Trustee of the Cottage Hospital. His wife served as President of the YMCA.’s Women’s Auxiliary.

E. P. Kimball died in 1910.

C. S. Gurney's vintage photograph from his book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, dates from 1902, only five years after it was constructed. Mine is from a slightly different angle, because the short evergreen trees seen in the center of the black-and-white photograph still exist and now completely obstruct the view!

The single-family home of the early 1900s is now a multi-home condominium building of the 2010s.

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.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hart-Rice House

The Hart-Rice House, also known as the William Rice House and the Rice House, is located at 408 The Hill. Its original location was 95 Deer Street.

Samuel Hart, Jr. built this home in 1756 for the beautification of  an empty lot. A descendant, Daniel Hart, sold the home to William Rice in 1804. 

Captain Rice was a successful Portsmouth merchant who owned privateers that attacked English merchantmen during the War of 1812.
In 1814, after one of his ships captured bales of calico cloth, he invited his female relatives and friends to a ‘calico party’ at his house, where the ladies gleefully cut up the cloth and carried it home for new dresses. After his death in 1851, the home remained in his family estate for fifty years.

Portsmouth moved the elegant Georgian home to its current location on The Hill during the Urban Renewal movement of the 1960s. It now serves as business offices.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Franklin School

The original Franklin School, sometimes locally called the Christian Shore School, is located on the south side of Maplewood Avenue, between Prospect and Dennett Streets.

Portsmouth built the Franklin School in 1847. The original design was quite simple, basically a two-story, double one-room schoolhouse; that is, the facility had only two commodious rooms, one on each floor. This grammar school, which served Portsmouth from 1847-1919, accommodated up to a maximum of approximately ninety students per year. 

As the school approached the end of its useful life, in 1917, the city's Superintendent of Schools wrote in Portsmouth's Annual Report, “The Franklin School is poorly arranged, very poorly lighted, and unreasonably crowded but in about as good condition as its construction permits.”

It was replaced by the New Franklin School on Dennett Street in 1920. Afterwards, the old building served as a carpenter's mill from 1921-1923 and a furniture warehouse from 1923-1943. Later, the building was converted into apartments and became condominiums in the mid-1980s.

The vintage photograph below comes from C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. Mine was taken 111 years later, on a hot June afternoon in 2013.

I wish all the historic buildings in Portsmouth displayed their name and the date of their construction. It would make researching them a lot easier!