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St. John's Chapel


St. John's Chapel
State Street, Portsmouth, NH
Illustration (c) 1913 Helen Pearson

See St. John's Church on Chapel Street

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Excerpt from "Vignettes of Portsmouth," (1913) by Helen Pearson and Harold Hotchkiss Bennett, Courtesy of Portsmouth Public Library Collection.

Upon the site where once stood the house of Reverend John Emerson, later owned by Jacob Sheafe and destroyed in the fire of 1813, this chapel was erected in 1832. The Brattle Organ, used to the present day in the chapel (Note: written in 1913), was installed four years later. This historic instrument was brought to Boston in August, 1713, and presented to the Queen's Chapel by Thomas Brattle, Esq. So great were the public prejudices against instrumental music that the organ remained in the porch of the church for seven months unpacked, In 1714, however, it was put up and regularly used in that church, which, after Queen Anne's reign ended, received the name it now bears of the King's Chapel. In 1756, the organ was sold to St. Paul's Church, Newburyport, where it was used eighty years, then sold once more and put up at St. John's Church.

This instrument, with its original pipes and wind chest even now in perfect order, was the first organ introduced into New Engand, and probably the first erected in any of the Colonies.

( Update: The copy above refers largely to St. John's on Chapel Street. We could not find the chapel until we discovered the 1832 Grecian-style chapel was torn town to make way for an office building in the 20th century. It was used as a church school for bible study.)

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