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Gateway to Portsmouth History

Masonic Presents 
Historic Portsmouth #456  

One of the first things our new 2023 Celebration Committee should do is spend a lot of time looking backwards to see what Portsmouth and other cities have done to celebrate historic anniversaries gone by. From the city's first anniversary event in 1823 we have had a fascination with arches. These were often made from a combination of wood, fresh cut greenery and flowers and positioned at key entrances to downtown. The more monumental, the better. (Continued below)


This 1923 construction by the local Masons shows that our ancestors were serious about making a big impression on visitors who streamed into Portsmouth for the festivities. This tercentenary arch by St. John's No 1 Masonic Home near their fraternal hall on Middle Street reeds simply "FRIENDS! -- WE GREET THEE. it's not the Gateway Arch of Saint Louis or the Arc du Triomphe in Paris, but its impressive with a nice sentiment. We could recreate this vintage look in 2023, couldn't we? Maybe they still have the plans. Pictured on the left is Fred C. Rucker, J. Wallace Lear, and Fred Walker, and on the right is Reginald E. Goldsmith, son of Reginald Goldsmith, Fred E. Harmon, Lewis E. Pendleton. (Courtesy of Portsmouth Athenaeum)     

Masons art Portsmouth Tercentenary 1923/ Portsmouth Atheneum


Arch 1923 detail /

Masons 1923 arch /


I read all your columns with great interest. What became of this arch? Why and when was it removed? -- Ann S

Everything I know is in the caption. It was just a photo found in an archive, but the Masons keep pretty good records about themselves. I jokingly noted that they might still have the plans on file. Maybe they do. My guess is it went the way of all large decorative wooden constructions and ended up as a doghouse or garden shed, but maybe still in pieces up in their attic on Middle Street. I'd like to see us replicate some of these in 2023, but will the neighbors be so kind a century later?


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News about Portsmouth from

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 
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