Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eldredge Brewing Company

The former Eldredge Brewing Company is located at One Cate Street, near the northwest corner of Cate and Bartlett Streets.

Back in 1659, the local selectmen gave John Cutt, the grandfather of Edward Cutts, permission to build a sawmill and corn mill at this location, on the banks of the creek that flows into the North Mill Pond. In January 1680, John Cutt became President of the Province of New Hampshire by royal appointment. 

Later, the Portsmouth Hosiery Company, also known as the Portsmouth Stocking Factory, stood here from 1830 to 1853.

The Eldredge family began brewing in the former Portsmouth Stocking Factory around 1858, and the M. Fisher Brewing Company soon opened with Marcellus Eldredge in charge. His father, Heman Eldredge, bought the firm in 1870 and renamed it the H. Eldredge and Son Company. They shortened the name to the Eldredge Brewing Company in 1875, with Marcellus Eldredge acting as the President and Treasurer. 

Marcellus, who served as the Mayor of Portsmouth in 1885 and 1886, lived on the corner of Islington and Cornwall Streets, opposite what became known as Goodwin Park. In 1887, Governor Goodwin's heirs sold the parcel of land to the city for a small fee with the requirement that it be used as a public park. At the same time, wealthy and powerful Marcellus Eldredge solicited help from residents to buy a Civil War statue for the new Goodwin Park. The resulting Soldiers and Sailors Monument still stands today, although in a shorter, frequently-repaired condition.

Marcellus ran the company until retiring in 1891. Afterwards, his younger brother, H. Fisher Eldredge, purchased his share of the holdings and took over as President. (Heman?) Fisher Eldredge lived in the Montgomery-Eldredge House on Merrimac Street.

Eldredge Brewing Company produced 30,000 barrels of beer in 1870 and grew to almost 93,000 barrels of beer by 1892. It was the second largest brewery in Portsmouth, after the Frank Jones Brewery. Both companies stopped brewing beer from 1917 until 1933, when Prohibition was enforced in New Hampshire. Starting in August of 1933, Eldredge Brewing Company attempted to make a beer-brewing comeback but did not succeed. The entire brewing industry in Portsmouth, including the Frank Jones Brewing Company, ceased by 1950.

Today, the original ice vault for beer storage still exists, on the left side of both photographs. The ornamental podium in the center of the wall once held a large statue of King Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer and brewing, holding up a large glass of beer. What is left of the Eldredge Brewing Company is now an office building called Eldredge Park.

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