Historic Happenings

Portsmouth Historical Society

Of Portsmouth’s many groups and creative crews, one of SOMMA’s favorite nonprofits is the Portsmouth Historical Society, which now calls home the space once filled by “the old library.”

While its physical home is contained to 10 Middle St., its reach is felt all over the Port City. The group operates the museum and Discover Portsmouth visitor center in downtown Portsmouth, publishes books, manages the Black Heritage Trail and advocates for historic preservation.

Below, is just one of the many activities of an historic and architectural nature, that is slated for the month of June. Find out more at http://portsmouthhistory.org/.

On Saturday, June 21 at 1 p.m., join Richard M. Candee, for the “Landmarks of Downtown Portsmouth” tour. Reservations required by calling 436-8433.

A tour lead by Candee, author of “Building Portsmouth,” will explore this city’s intriguing architectural landscape. The tour begins at 1 p.m. at Discover Portsmouth located at 10 Middle St.. The cost is $5 for members of the Portsmouth Historical Society and $10 for non-members. Memberships are available in the Visitor Center of Discover Portsmouth before the tour or online. Limited spaces are available. Please call Discover Portsmouth at (603) 436-8433 for reservations.

Your guide, Richard M. Candee, professor emeritus of American and New England Studies at Boston University, where he directed the Preservation Studies Program for nearly 30 years. He has published nearly a hundred articles, essays, and reviews as well as four books specifically about Portsmouth. He has been chairman of the Warner House Association, president of the Portsmouth Athenaeum and is president of the Portsmouth Historical Society. Before and after “retirement” he has mounted exhibits and published on several local artists including Thomas P. Moses, Harry M. S. Harlow, Russell Cheney and Omer Lassonde, as well as being curator of “Maritime Portsmouth: the Sawtelle Collection.” Copies of Candee’s Building Portsmouth are available in the Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Historically (did you catch that?) the first tour will highlight the landmarks of downtown Portsmouth, among them the Portsmouth Athenaeum built in 1805 for the NH Fire & Marine Insurance Company, the Old and New Custom Houses and the major churches of the city center. One of the tour’s gems is the Rockingham Hotelbuilt in 1785, which was enlarged in 1870, and nearly destroyed by fire in 1884. Fortunately, Frank Jones hired Boston architect Jabez Sears to rebuild the hotel the following year. It was remodeled into condos by the same architects who created the center block of Discover Portsmouth in 1976.

And definitely don’t miss out on all of the other historic happenings at http://portsmouthhistory.org/, it’s a wonderful source for Portsmouth.


SOMMA Studios is a design firm based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Our specialty is building design with a focus on residential; new homes, additions, renovations and urban living. design@SOMMAstudios.com,

603.766.3760 ext. 12.