The Drisco Family
James Drisco built this house across Horse Lane from the Shapley-Drisco House where he lived. He had the house built in 1810, probably as rental property. The house is named for Peter Lowd, a Portsmouth cooper, who bought it in 1824 and lived there with his family until his death in 1837. Making a living at coopering, as demonstrated in Strawbery Banke’s Dinsmore Shop, meant crafting the barrels and kegs needed for shipping New Hampshire products, Lowd was one of the many middleclass artisans who made Portsmouth prosper. In the early 1830s when he had reached the peak of his personal prosperity, Lowd invested the money from his shop on Long Wharf in another wharf and several ships. But after 1833 he and Portsmouth’s finances went into decline and he died leaving his wife and five children with extensive debts.
Architecturally, Lowd House’s rectangular shape and low-pitched hip roof are characteristics of a Federal-period house of its time. The exterior is plain, but the front doorway with its delicate fanlight and pilasters is a fine example of the Federal style in Portsmouth. The interior, too, is simple, although the rooms possess unusual cornice moldings.
The ell on the north is part of an older structure that dates from before the Revolution. Its origin is unknown, but great efforts were made to incorporate it into the building of the main house in 1810. Joining older structures to new ones was a common building practice in this neighborhood.
Lowd House now contains an exhibit on New Hampshire craftsmen and their tools. The display is from Strawbery Banke's Garland W. Patch Collection of Portsmouth area tools from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Other tools were provided by Mr. & Mrs. Winthrop L. Carter, Mr. Ralph E. Morang, Jr., J. Lee Murray and anonymous donors. The carved eagle is by John Bellamy. Lowd House was restored through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Edward V. French.