Black History is American History.

Walking Tour

imggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail.

Site #1
The Wharf at Prescott Park

Sheaf wharf Enslavement of Africans was part of Portsmouth life by 1645.
Portsmouth merchants were involved in the slave trade by 1680s.
Postsmouuth Blackheritage Trail. read more


Site #2
Stoodlay’s Tavern
Hancock Street at Strawbery Banke

Paul Revere JamesStoodlay’s Tavern,build in 1761,was a gathering place of
Revolutionary patriots and a destination of Paul Revere’s visit 1774.
Postsmouuth Blackheritage Trail. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #3
The Sherburne House
at Strawbery Banke

Sherburne House The white Sherburnes built this steep roofed house in two phases c. 1695 and c. 1702, when this neighborhood was new. Its owner, Joseph, was a mariner, merchant and farmer. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #4
William Pitt Tavern
on Court Street
at Strawbery Banke

William Pitt Tavern This three-story tavern, built in 1766, is most remembered as the scene of Revolutionary turmoil and visits of famous patriots. Enslaved people were a recurrent part of tavern-owner John Stavers’ more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #5
NH Gazette Printing Office
corner Pleasant & Howard Streets

NH Gazette Office Primus was one of a group of skilled slaves who worked in colonial Portsmouth. He was enslaved in the household of Daniel Fowle, owner of the New Hampshire Gazette, founded in 1756 in a small wooden house that stood on this site. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #6
Macphaedris - Warner House
corner of Daniel and Chapel Streets

Warner House Among the white colonial occupants of this 1716 brick house were its builder Archibald Macphaedris, royal governor Benning Wentworth and merchant Jonathan Warner. But it was also home to at least eight more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #7
St. John’s Church
Chapel Street

St. John’s Church Church records identify many black people in early Portsmouth. The terse entries tantalize. An example is an 1807 entry in the St. John’s records: “Contribution Xmas day, Venus - a Black — $1.” This was a Christmas gift from the church to Venus. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #8
North Church
Market Square

North Church In the colonial era some white people objected to the Christianization of enslaved Africans and didn’t take their slaves to church. Pious whites catechized their enslaved people and took them to more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #9
Town Pump and Stocks
Market Square

Town Pump In colonial Portsmouth, as throughout the Americas, a coronation or election of black leaders was held each more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #10
Negro Burial Ground
Chestnut Street, between State & Court Streets

Human Bones In colonial Portsmouth, segregation applied in death as in life. By 1705 the Portsmouth government had created a separate “Negro burial ground” outside the riverfront town. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #11
Moffatt-Ladd House
154 Market Street

Moffatt-Ladd House The Moffatt-Ladd mansion is remembered as the home of Declaration of Independence signer and Revolutionary War general William Whipple, and his wife. It was also the home of their more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #12
The Whipple Home (private residence)Ground
High Street
& North Burial
Woodbury Ave

Whipple House In the mid 1700s, two African boys were sent by their wealthy royal family from Amabou on the Gold Coast of West Africa to be educated abroad. A deceitful sea captain brought them into American more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #13
Samuel Penhallow House
Washington Street, Strawbery Banke Museum

Penhallow house There were a few free black people in colonial Portsmouth, and increasing numbers were freed after the Revolution. To certify their status and prove their exemption from slave curfew laws, free black people secured freedom papers from their former owners. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #14

Langdon House
143 Pleasant Street

John Langdon House Cyrus Bruce was emancipated by John Langdon, after which he worked for him as a paid servant. This arrangement was underway by 1783, when Langdon was building this mansion on Pleasant more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #15

Ceres Street

Portsmouth Waterfront Enslaved marines were part of the Portsmouth scene by 1727. They worked mostly in the Atlantic coastal and West Indies trades, and some sailed in the Revolution. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #16

Site of the Temple
(now The Music Hall) Chestnut Street

Frederick Douglass Black abolitionists were the driving force through 90 years that culminated in the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution in 1865. Several spoke at a 1,000-seat public lecture hall called the Temple, which opened in 1844 at the corner of Chestnut and Porter more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #17

South Church
292 State Street

South Church interior The earliest recorded black family in Portsmouth appears in the South Church records of baptism in 1717. One-hundred fifty years later, South Church’s Unitarian women are reputed to have been part of the pre-Civil War “Underground Railroad,” violating federal law by helping fugitive slaves out of the country. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #18

South Ward Room
(now Portsmouth Children’s Museum)
Marcy Street

Baptist Church This 1866 Victorian election hall was the site of two major 19th-century institutions in the lives of Portsmouth’s black citizens. Starting on New Year’s Day in 1881, many annual celebrations of the Emancipation Proclamation were held here. The first was attended by “most of the colored people of the city” and over 100 invited white guests. The celebrations included speeches, a catered supper and music, and recurred for eighty years. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #19

People’s Baptist Church
(now The Pearl) 45 Pearl Street

SPECIAL: History of The Pearl
In 1908 the black People’s Baptist Church became independent from Middle Street Baptist Church, and in 1915, under the leadership of the Reverend John L. Davis, purchased this former Free Will Baptist church built in 1851. read more
Baptist Church

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #20

14-16 Market Street
private offices

Market Square In the early 20th century, several of Portsmouth’s black social clubs met in second floor meeting rooms on the corner of Pleasant and Daniel Streets. In 1919, Our Boys Comfort Club (soon re-named the Lincoln American Community Club) offered social evenings for “colored enlisted men, Phillipinos, Porto Ricans [sic] and other darker racial groups of the service” stationed in the area, as well as “Civilian Colored people.” read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #21

Navy Yard
viewed from Prescott Park

Tall Ship Though excluded from the Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, and accepted only in limited numbers by the Army and Navy, black Americans comprised 16% of the World War II ear armed forces when they were 10% of the nation’s population. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #22

Rosary’s Beauty Shop
171 Washington Street

Rosary Cooper Rosary Broxay Cooper came to Portsmouth from Florida as a children’s nurse to the Merrill family who owned a hotel in Ogunquit. In 1938 she married Portsmouth native Owen Finnegan Cooper. In World War II he served as a master sergeant in the 509th, Quartermaster Division, in Europe. read more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #23

Rockingham House
401 State Street

Rockingham Hotel In 1948 New Hampshire resident Louis DeRochemont, famous for his March of Time newsreels, made a controversial film in the Seacoast area, Lost Boundaries. It was loosely based on the biography of black physician Albert C. more

imgggPortsmouth Black Heritage Trail

Site #24

St. John’s Parish Hall
Chapel Street

St. John’s Chapel Local people, alarmed by news and television images of violent racial confrontations, gathered in 1963 at St. John’s to discuss and educate themselves on matters of race and religion. Their group quickly grew and diversified to include black and white citizens of many religious affiliations. read more

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