A former U.S. Navy and marine prison, PORTSMOUTH NAVAL PRISON is on Seavey's Island, in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Compound.
The building's appearance earned it the nickname "the Castle". Others called it the "Alcatraz of the East" because no inmate ever successfully escaped. Erected near the site of the former Fort Sullivan, the reinforced concrete naval prison was in use from 1908 until 1974.
Part of the Fort Constitution historic site, the PORTSMOUTH HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE is adjacent to the Coast Guard Station. The lighthouse could be seen from our Isles of Shoals cruise and is one of only two lighthouses in New Hampshire.
The station was established in 1771. The present lighthouse was built in 1878 of cast-iron and reaching a height of 48 feet. It was automated in 1960.
The WARNER HOUSE is perhaps the finest example of a brick urban mansion of the early 18th century in New England. Among the many interesting features are mural paintings on three walls of the staircase and a lightening rod on the west wall, said to have been installed under the supervision of Benjamin Franklin in 1762.
Located on the corner of Daniel and Chapel Streets in Portsmouth.
Open June 16 through October 14
Monday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sunday noon to 4:00 p.m.
Children 7-12 $2.50
6 and under free
The history of the WILLIAM PITT TAVERN is one of the more interesting stories in New England. It was erected by a Porstmouth freemason named John Stavers. In 1766, he purchased the land on the corner of Atkinson and Court streets and erected a three and a half story building out of native pine, hemlock and various hard woods. In order to provide for a large open meeting room on the third floor, he substituted the traditional center chimney for chimneys at each end of the building. Here were held meetings of the Masons. Stavers operated the tavern until his death at the age of 83 in 1797.
By the latter half of the 20th century, the building was acquired by the directors of Strawberry Banke and was looked upon as a valuable relic of the past and it was decided to restore the old Tavern to its earlier state. It is still in use today as a Lodge.
A group of nine small islands, the ISLES OF SHOALS is situated approximately 16 k.m. from the east coast, between New Hampshire and Maine.
Some of the islands were used for fishing camps by native Americans and first settled by Europeans in the early 1600's.
The islands include - Appledore Island (the largest island at 95 acres), Star Island (46 acres), Smuttynose (25 acres), Malaga Island, White Island, Duck Island and Cedar Island.
The narrator on our Isles of Shoals cruise, told us of many stories about these Islands,
Thomas Bailey Aldrich was born in 1830 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Aldrich attained the friendship of such notables as Mark Twain and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
He became editor of the Atlantic Monthly, the most important literary magazine of the time.
In 1979, the ALDRICH HOUSE, built c. 1797 became part of the Strawberry Banke Museum.
The CHASE HOUSE at the corner of Court and Wahington is one of the grandest Georgian structures at Strawberry Banke. The Chase family, Portsmouth merchants, lived in the house for over a century. The house was built about 1762 and purchased in 1799 by Stephen Chase.
The Chase house's most unusual features are its gambrel roof and beautiful doorways.
Standing at the southeast corner of Court and Atkinson Streets, (420 Court) is the REUBEN SHAPLEY HOUSE. Captain Shapley, a successful merchant and sea captain, bought this corner property in 1790. It began its existence as a workshop or store. The building's simple Federal styling indicated that its conversion to living quarters took place while Reuben Shapley owned it. The change to a dwelling house with its chimneys. attractive mantelpieces and other domestic trims, was completed by 1813. The house remained part of the Shapley estate until 1831.
It is presently used as the administrative office by the Strawberry Banke Museum.
A few miles south of Portsmouth you can find Rye, New Hampsire. Rye is the he first settlement in New Hampshire it was originally named Pannaway was established in 1623 at Odiorne's Point. Rye has a fantastic stone beach rightfully named Rye Beach. It was here that my love affair with the ocean began. Back in 1990 I gathered my very first seashell from this beach. For me visiting here was a spiritual moment, but others may not get the same feeling. But, if you like the ocean it's worth a quick stop.
Fondest memory: Gathering my seashell.
I have been lucky to grab a parking spot on the street and I have parked in one of the many municipal garages. Finding a spot on the street is not always easy and requires you to feed the meter to avoid a ticket. The municipal garage provides a guaranteed space and a relatively hassle free visit without worrying about feeding a meter.
The High-Hanover Parking Garage is located close to Market Square so the location is good. The aprking rate is 75 cents an hour which is not bad. The Garage is located right on Hanover street and has several levels of parking.
Favorite thing: Portsmouth has some great bars and restaurants throughout the town. Since the town is very walkable it is a great spot to bar hop. Liz and I enjoy hopping from place to place sampling some drinks and appetizers while enjoying the town.
Our last visit to Portsmouth coincided with Cinco de Mayo. We up in Portsmouth showing our friend Lydia the town and began our Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl at Poco's. Margaritas and Corono's bagan our adventure as we hopped around from bar to bar all day into the night.
It was a fun time and surprisingly we didn't find anyone acting rowdy or out of control; which was quite nice. Nothing worse that a rowdy bunch to ruin the fun for all.
Portsmouth is only 45 to 50 minutes North of Boston, so, driving up for the day or for a weekend was fairly convenient for me when I was living in Boston. In fact, Portsmouth perfectly situated in the middle of New England and would make a great destination for anyone visiting the area.
While living in Boston, I would found myself going there several times a year, sometimes just for lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery followed by coffee at Kilim Caffe. I really enjoy the old port towns of New England and Portsmouth is a great example of one such town. Portsmouth has not lost its look and feel or spirit despite the shipping industries’ consolidation to a few major ports along the New England coast over the last 100 years.
So, when I am in Portsmouth, I am simply there just to hang out and relax, drink a few beers, take in the historic architecture and the waterfront and the tugboats that are always docked along 'Tugboat Alley' behind Merchant's Row on Bow Street. Tugboats are cool...
Fondest memory: I have a lot of fond memories of Portsmouth, mostly I just like being there in the city, perhaps chillin' at the Kilim Caffe dreaming up my next trip abroad (See 'Must See Activities' for the Kilim Caffe).
The waterfront is the best part for me. The water is actually the Piscataqua River (there I said it, Piscataqua :)
The area is a great place for a stroll with several restaurants and art shops. The whole town is not that big so you can park somewhere in the center and walk around.
If you can not find street parking you can try and drive north to the waterfront on State street and make a left at the end after you cross under the bridge there is an underground public parking lot. (The lot is adjacent to Dunfey's my favorite restaurant in town where you have to try the mussels!)
Favorite thing: Here I am, just lounging on the porch of the Strawbery Banke Museum. Due to time constraints, we didn't have time to visit the historic settlement, but we walked around a good portion of Portsmouth's waterfront neighborhoods and it doesn't look like much has changed in the past few centuries here!