The Mysterious Old Statehouse Balcony
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Written by Seacoast Archive Presents
Historic Portsmouth #362

Legend says that the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Portsmouth from a balcony at the Old Statehouse in 1776. President George Washington waved to the crowds from that balcony in 1789, we think. These two photographs show an iron balcony that may once have been attached to the Old Statehouse in Market Square. (Continued below with photos)


Legend says this is the same balcony, as seen on a house on Deer Street possibly in the 1930s. But the historians I spoke with this week think that is unlikely. This balcony appears to be from a later era, not the 18th century, but the early19th. Built in 1758 the Old Statehouse stood in the middle of Congress Street between the North Church and the Athenaeum. It was broken up and removed in 1836. This balcony, perhaps a later addition to the original building, may have survived and been installed on one or more houses in town. But there is, as yet, no definitive proof that this balcony is the real deal. This house pictured, the Thomas Beck House, survives on “The Hill” downtown, but the balcony is missing – possibly stolen decades ago during the urban renewal in the North End -- and its whereabouts are currently unknown. I checked a couple of likely locations, but came up empty, Maybe you know where it is? Check your back yard. (Photos courtesy of the Portsmouth Athenaeum)

POssible Old NH Statehouse Baclony on Deer Street 1930s

MORE ON the Old Statehouse

Possible NH Statehouse balcony in 1930s /

(c) / Images (C) Portsmouth Athenaeum