The Lively Rockingham House
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Written by SeacoastNh Archive Presents
Historic Portsmouth #323  

On closer examination, this seemingly static 19th century illustration of the Rockingham House on State Street is bustling with activity. Children frolic on the front lawn while a family and their dog cross the street. A fountain bubbles to the left where the Rockingham pool is today. (Continued below)


 A one-horse shay and a two-in-hand carriage have just arrived as well-dressed patrons stroll by. The four iconic Rockingham lions (installed in 1872) guard the two entrances – although the ones pictured here are larger and fiercer than the actual sculptures. Adapted from the brick mansion of Woodbury Langdon, the original Rockingham House opened to the public in 1833, but suffered near-total damage in an 1844 fire. Ale tycoon Frank Jones purchased the restored building in 1870 and made extensive renovations, then did so again after an 1884 fire. The hotel was later owned by Portsmouth mayor Andrew Jarvis, by James and Margaret Smith, and by Hazel B. Woods. The North American Development Corp. acquired the property and adapted it to condominiums in 1973. Famous visitors include at least four U.S. presidents and the delegates to the 1905 Peace Treaty. Portsmouth poet laureate Esther Buffler, film producer Louis de Rochemont, and his wife screenwriter Virginia Shaler were among the 20th century condo residents.  (Courtesy Strawbery Banke Collection)   




 323_detail02b Historic Portsmouth