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Things You Never Knew About Old Portsmouth Library

Former Portsmouth Public Library Doorway /

It used to be a private school and a private home, both built in 1810. For decades historians claimed it was designed by the same man who designed the US Capitol. It wasn’t true, but people claimed it all the same. Read our complete timeline of the historic structures.




UPDATE: Discover Portsmouth Center Open 

New Cultural Center Site has 200 Year History 

READ: Carpe Diem Cultural Center 

Portsmouth’s Cultural Revolution has begun. In the waning days of 2007, city councilors voted 8-to-1 to green light the Portsmouth Historical Society’s plan to transform the old public library on Middle Street into a seacoast Cultural Center. Their goal is to create a one-stop hub showcasing local theater, film, visual arts, crafts, dance, writing, music, history and the environment.

Portsmouth Library and Cultural Center/ (c) Strawbery Banke Collection by Douglas Armsden on SeacoastNH.comPlanners imagine the new facility may include an orientation film about Portsmouth, changing exhibits, up-to-date posters and brochures, a ticketing agency, wall-sized maps, trained guides, public restrooms, walking tours and computerized aids. The idea is to draw people to a central spot, a cultural "gateway", listen to their questions, and then direct them toward the myriad cultural sites and venues in the region that interest them most.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The three-year pilot program has just been announced, and plans for the transformation are still on the drawing board.

The historical society is seeking trustees, volunteers, and benefactors willing to roll up their sleeves and turn the old Portsmouth Public Library Into a 21st century visitor’s center.

Portsmouth loves to recycle its architecture. What we call the "old library" is really two separate Federal Style buildings – a private home and a school – both built around 1810. The former Portsmouth Academy and the Morton-Benedict House were linked by a brick connector in 1954. Both have a fascinating history. So while the Historical Society is catching its breath and planning the future, let’s quickly track these buildings through the last two centuries.


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News about Portsmouth from

Thursday, January 18, 2018 
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