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Pleasantville: 1909

Pleasantville: 1909

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, circa 1909. "Congress Street near Market Square." With at least two painless dentists, an optician, hatter and oyster house among the merchants vying for your trade. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.


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Best guess

In this era, Portsmouth was a major American brewing center. The building at right, National Block, was built by Frank Jones, owner of the largest of Portsmouth's breweries. (For the interesting tale of the ground-floor occupant, the Granite State Fire Insurance Company, see this brief history of Jones and his business ventures.)

The smokestack in the distance probably belonged to the Portsmouth Brewing Co., a much smaller competitor to Jones's brewery and its main rival, the Eldredge Brewing Co. Below is another Detroit Photo image of the smokestack from further back, where Congress St. rises to higher ground & gives a better view into the distance.

As shown in its ad in the 1905 Portsmouth city directory, Portsmouth Brewing sat at 64 Bow St., roughly 5 blocks northeast of the photographer's position in the photo above (at Congress & Fleet Sts). On the map below, I've noted the location of the brewery (red star) and the line of sight along Congress St (black line) past the fork in the road (orange circle).

I was unable to locate any close-up photos of the full brewery complex. However, a contemporaneous photo of St. John's Church (marked on the annotated map with a blue diamond) does give another glimpse of the smokestack. In addition, a long-range photo of the Portsmouth waterfront offers a decent view (looking to the southeast) of the brewery and its relation to St. John's. I've included a detail of this last photo below.

Intact, but --

"Surprisingly intact," yes, but not nearly as charming. Wonder who can tell us what is belching all that smoke in the background?

Living free

Surprisingly intact.

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