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Yesterday and Today
by Bill & Connie Warren
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Rockingham County Courthouse

Yesterday, circa 1906, on State Street just around the corner from Pleasant street, there was a grand-looking brick building that was the Rockingham County Courthouse. (The building is easily identified in the 1920s aerial photograph located under "maps" button on this web page. From Market Square, beyond the North Church is Pleasant Street. Follow Pleasant Street [to right edge of picture] to the airplane wing. Beyond the brick buildings that face into Pleasant, on State Street, is the Rockingham County Courthouse. Its "steeple-like" tower is very prominent in the photograph.) Built in 1891, the building was one of the sites selected by the Governor of New Hampshire to greet the envoys from Russia and Japan when they came to the Portsmouth for talks that eventually led to the Russian-Japan Peace Treaty in 1905 signed at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Until the 1960s, the Court was part of the Central Business District's many old fine 18th and 19th century buildings.

In speaking with a friend and retired lawyer about the building and the reasons for tearing it down rather than preserving it, he related to me that the building was in very poor condition. The costs of repairs exceeded the available funds to restore and recycle it. It was decided therefore to take the building down. Following its destruction, the area where the building had stood remained a vacant lot until the Piscataqua Savings Bank purchase it.

Today, The Rockingham County Court house has once again moved its 1960s location (The Exeter-Hampton Road) to its current location in Brentwood, New Hampshire. Where the old courthouse stood is the parking lot and drive through teller windows for the Piscataqua Savings Bank. They have also included a brick-paved half-circle area with a flag pole where the American flag flies, and where passers-by can stand, off the sidewalk. With trees and shrubbery, the parking lot is not intrusive into the street-scape. Behind the bank's parking lot, there is a new brick building being erected. Though I have not seen the surveyed area for it, I presume that the new building stands on part of the block on which the Rockingham County Courthouse stood.

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