STRAWBERY BANKE MUSEUM

 

PENHALLOW HOUSE (unrestored)

Penhallow House, the only "saltbox" house remaining at Strawbery Banke Museum, and one of very few left in this area, is rich in history.

Samuel Penhallow built this house about 1750, the year of his marriage. A highly respected local magistrate and deacon of the North Church, Penhallow lived here for more than 60 years. As a judge, he was known for his swift and impartial dispensation of the law.

Charles Brewster, the 19th century chronicler, claimed "neither the possession of wealth, nor any advantitious condition of life of the accused, ever influenced ?the old Deacon?." The small room at the southern end of the first floor was his courtroom.

Deacon Penhallow and his wife, Prudence, for many years kept a "penny shop" in this house, selling small items such as pins, needles, threads and snuff. John Paul Jones reportedly frequented their shop while a resident of Portsmouth in 1777 and 1781 supervising construction of war ships which he was to command.

Deacon Penhallow's grandfather, also named Samuel, was a man of even greater prominence in New Hampshire. Born in Cornwall and the first Penhallow to come to Portsmouth, Samuel served as a king's councilor and as treasurer and chief justice of the province. He is best remembered, however, as the author of "The History of the Wars of New England With the Eastern Indians," published in 1726, the year of Penhallow's death. His special interest in the subject is understandable since Ursula Cutt, widow of the province's first president, John Cutt, (Penhallow's father-in-law) was killed by Indians at her farm just a few miles upriver from Portsmouth in 1694.

Architecture

Penhallow House originally stood at the southeast corner of Court and Pleasant streets. It was moved to its present site in 1862. At that time, the tide still flowed into Puddle Dock, and Canoe Bridge spanned its upper end, just south of this house on Washington Street. The interior of Penhallow House still retains many original doors, sash, glass and cornices, as well as several windows with folding shutters and window seats.

Heritage House Program Project & Interpretation

A portion of Penhallow House today serves as a craft shop. More complete restoration is planned with Heritage House Program funding. At the side of the shed behind the house can be seen some of the wooden pipes from the Portsmouth Aqueduct, the city's first water system.

The site is a stop on the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and is identified with a brass plaque that says, "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. Some also registered with the town clerk or a justice of the peace, such as Samuel Penhallow who lived in this house."

Penhallow House grounds are the focus of the 2016 Strawbery Banke Archaeology Field School.