New Hampshire

Memories of the Living. Echoes of the Dead.

The living and the dead both leave their mark on a city.

During our tour of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Lucinda and I sought out places where the voices of those gone before could most readily be heard.

We began at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Built in 1807 on the footprint of a wooden church that went up in flames along with 300 other buildings, it was the first brick building in the state, earning it a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

The front doors were wide open, inviting us inside. We found it abandoned, no living soul around.

We escaped from that eerie silence onto the street. From there you can see metal doors set into the walls around the church. These doors are portals into 10 underground vaults which store the earthly remains of former congregants.

Down the hill we stopped to look out over the water beneath the World War Memorial Bridge. This gray monstrosity is dedicated as a “Memorial to the Sailors and Soldiers of New Hampshire who gave their lives in the World War 1917–1919.”It was built after World War I, when the idea of a second world war was unfathomable.

From there we struck out toward the heart of town, not at all sure what we were looking for, but certain we would know it when we found it. A small sign pointing down a well-kept alley directed us to something called Deadwick’s Ethereal Emporium.

Inside we found an occult wonderland complete with incense and fortune tellers. This magickal shop sold everything from tarrot cards to robes, taxidermy to skull candles, crystals to curiosities. Though photos are usually prohibited because they disturb the spirits, they made an exception for Lucinda.

Back out on the street we continued exploring and found a building under construction. Those who had passed this way before left messages on the plywood walls.

A more permanent art installation greeted us outside of Clark’s Creamery, where we tasted our first whoppie pie ice cream. This mural by Herakut is a little worse for wear, but still striking.

Eating and exploring we wandered away from downtown, and through the residential areas, where historic homes gave way to neighborhoods. Up another hill we found South Cemetery. This is the resting place of the Smuttynose Murder Victims and the site of the hanging of Ruth Blay.

Of course no visit to Portsmouth is complete without stopping by the USS Albacore. This research submarine is now dry docked in Portsmouth, and a stranger site is hard to find.


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