Pages

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Haunted in Portsmouth

Hotel Portsmouth, NH
They say that what you don't know won't harm scare you. What we didn't know when we stayed in a Portsmouth, NH, lodging recently was that it has been named as one of the state's haunted locations.

This was another in-state New England getaway. As we've (temporarily) run out of area castles to visit, we've downsized architectural styles to former grand homes, many of which offer lodgings. A previous estate stay was Stonehurst Manor, North Conway, NH. As far as we know, it has not been reported to be haunted. 

But this latest stay was a different story. This hotel is in the Lark Hotels chain that's concentrated in New England (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI) with a single location in Carmel, CA. According to the company website: Lark Hotels are intimate getaways. They reveal a sense of place and nostalgia with imagination and a touch of mischief. 

That elevator sign in last week's Friday Funnies was taken during our stay at this former estate, now the Hotel Portsmouth. We thought the sign was humorous, as did others, but it seems the sign may have ghostly undertones not disclosed during our stay. Also, the elevator amenity was unusual as most multi-floor B&Bs and small hotels rarely have one which usually discourages us from staying on upper floors.

Portsmouth, NH, settled in 1623, is just over an hour's drive from Nashua. It's one of the state’s oldest towns and also home to some of its most historic buildings, such as Strawberry Banke, The Rockingham, and The Portsmouth Athenaeum. Quite often, spooky stories become very much associated with places that have been around for hundreds of years. 
Hotel Portsmouth, Court Street, Portsmouth, NH
The 138-year old Hotel Portsmouth is no exception. Built in 1881 by John E. Sise, a wealthy Portsmouth ship merchant and businessman, the estate is a classic example of Victorian architecture in the Queen Anne style.
Woodwork on hallway staircases, Hotel Portsmouth
Chandeliers on ground floor, Hotel Portsmouth
Before 1881, a three-story Federal mansion stood in this location on the south side of Court Street. It was built in 1798 for Charles Treadwell, the last owner was the family of L.E. Marsh. 
John Sise married Lucy Maria Marsh in 1857. They purchased the Marsh family mansion in 1879, which they demolished and replaced it with an elaborate estate. The Sise family included four children. The eldest daughter, Mabel, later owned the house and expanded it after her marriage to the Rev. Alfred Gooding.
John E. Sise residence, circa 1902 (Internet source) looks similar to current hotel
It remained a private residence until the mid-1930s, when the mansion began to be used for business and professional services that included a doctor’s suite of offices, a beauty parlor, a fashion shop, and apartments. In the 1950s, it was used as a half-way house for those afflicted with mental illnesses. 
Side view to show building Hotel Portsmouth expansion over the years
In 1986, it was expanded and, with a nod to its former owners, opened as the Sise Inn with 34 four guest rooms. After nearly 30 years, it was sold in 2013 and, after a six-month renovation with attention to historic details, it reopened as the Hotel Portsmouth with 32 guest rooms. The renovation didn't seem to have eliminated the spirits that frequent its walls according to sources.
Hotel Portsmouth lounges (we enjoyed pizza & wine by gaslit fireplace on lower left) 
Suite 204 is considered a particular hotspot. Rumor goes that a butler of the home's original owner fell in love with a maid who he killed and then hung himself in the room. There's no factual evidence this ever happened.
Hotel Portsmouth, Room 104
Our 2-night stay didn't result in any unusual occurrences or sightings even when we used the elevator. Our room (104) was on the first floor, and the rear hotel entry is on the ground floor.

We'd read about things that had reportedly happened like items being thrown or moved, elevator doors opening and closing, a rocking chair moving on its own. Some guests were locked out of their room and others said they felt like someone had climbed into bed with them.

Numerous online sites and printed publications, have included the Hotel Portsmouth as one of the states notable haunted places. It should be noted that many reported that any hovering spirits were considered to be more annoying than harmful. Perhaps, we'll meet on a future visit.
Stairway woodwork viewed in hall mirror
This post was not meant to discourage stays at the Hotel Portsmouth, which we enjoyed and would re-book again. The hotel was centrally located within walking distance from downtown Portsmouth, provided free on-site parking (a nice perk as many larger area hotels have a parking fee), and last (but not least), the staff were helpful and friendly. We enjoyed a take-out pizza and wine seated in front of a gas lit fireplace in one of the lounges on the rainy evening of our last night stay. No, we didn't share with any errant spirits. 

In a couple of weeks, we'll stay at another Lark hotel to celebrate a special anniversary. As far as we know, there's been no unusual sightings there. But, who knows what can happen on a getaway adventure?

29 comments:

Marcia said...

Did you know this before you went or only after your visit? I think I'd be spooked to stay there.

Was Strawberry Banke open for you to visit? That's an interesting spot and well worth a visit someday. Some of the reenactors stay in their time period no matter what you ask them.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

No, Marcia, we didn’t know about the reported hauntings before our visit. But, in all fairness, our stay at the Hotel Portsmouth was great with a very friendly and accommodating staff. Strawberry Banke remains closed, but we did wander the grounds a bit and spoke to someone there who told us they expect it to reopen June 1, but there may be certain restrictions. It was nice to be able to walk around outdoors during our Portsmouth visit.

DUTA said...

Haunted or not, the building is very beautiful!

Barbara Rogers said...

That's a great sounding hotel, and I've read just a novel about Strawberry Bank...would love to learn more. Glad you enjoyed your visit!!

William Kendall said...

I like the look of the place.

MadSnapper said...

It sure is a winner in the looks Department! I love that it's gorgeous and the inside is just beautiful. If you had read about the ghost before you might have seen or heard them

Laurie said...

It’s beautiful and I don’t believe in ghost so I would be fine, I think? Lol

Jeanie said...

It's gorgeous, Dorothy, and I love the history. Beautifully appointed -- it must be a wonderful spot for an overnight. I like the "sense of mischief." That's fun!

Edna B said...

This is really quite a beautiful building. How interesting about the ghosts. Pizza and wine in front of the fireplace sounds soooo nice! You have a great time, hugs, Edna B.

Jon said...

A beautiful hotel with a rich and fascinating history. As always, your photos are great.
I definitely believe in "ghosts" and spirits (courtesy of first-hand experience). Perhaps it's best that you didn't encounter any during your stay...

Pensive Pensioner said...

It's a beautiful place. Not sure I would sleep soundly though! I do believe in spirits but, hopefully, there are only friendly ones in residence there 😊

Emma Springfield said...

You made me think of my visit to Lizzie Borden's house in Fall River, Mass. A young man who has been on the tour of the house earlier in the day came rushing in. He wondered if he could take some more pictures of the bedroom that displays a dress from the TV series Bewitched. A picture he had taken that morning picked up a ghost. As I looked at the picture I knew what it was. There were workmen on the street below. He had a double exposure and the workmen appeared as ghosts.

bill burke said...

The hotel is beautiful. Hard to believe it was haunted at one time.

robin andrea said...

Quite a beautiful hotel. It's lovely to see these photos. I'm glad you didn't encounter any ghosts.

Margaret D said...

It certainly has had a checked past. It looks a pleasant house.

Haddock said...

Not much of a difference from the 1902 picture (and well maintained too)

Bijoux said...

I’m shocked by the number of guest rooms. It doesn’t look that big to accommodate that many rooms. I only like to hear about ghost sightings after I’ve visited a place!

Karen Lakis said...

This looks like a beautiful hotel - and Portsmouth is a beautiful town. I’m not sure how I’d feel about encounters with a ghost - but probably wouldn’t let that possibility keep me from staying there.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

It really is a beautiful, grand old structure, and I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed staying there. If people think a house is haunted they either stay away from it, or if someone drops a book in the night they ascribe metaphysical qualities to it.

Anvilcloud said...

What a grand looking place, both outside and inside.

Lee said...

I guess it depends on what liquids are ingested, and how many, too! :)

What a beautiful old structure...so interesting...beautiful and definitely worthy of further stays, in my opinion.

Rob K said...


Beautiful location with a great history. And I love a good ghost story.

Bindu said...

Beautiful photos. It is good to know that you didn't experience any scary stuff.

baili said...

i am very impressed that you stayed in this hotel dear Dorothy :)

i agree that sometimes knowing can be troubling specially this kind of ,i try not to watch horror movies not because i feel scared but i don't want my mind to play tricks to me rather than doing some reasonable thinking lol

place where mental patients are being kept can be easily fall for such fame i think ,these images when relate to maid murder story seem spooky ,i really wonder what makes old places haunted ,may be their emptiness
blessing to you and loved ones my friend and best of luck for next trip :)

Linda G. said...

Oh, the woodwork...It is beautiful!

nick said...

I would take all those supposed ghostly sightings with a large inch of salt, since no doubt they provide lots of publicity for the hotel and attract curious visitors. Personally I've never experienced anything ghostly, my hotel visits have always been quite routine.

My name is Erika. said...

Did you do anything fun in Portsmouth? That's a lovely hotel. I wonder if you would want to see any apparitions? Sounds like you enjoyed staying there.

David said...

Beatrice, This is exactly the kind of place that my wife likes when we're on the road. We stayed in one place in Southern Alabama...actually an old building converted into a downtown Hampton Inn...that was reputed to be heavily haunted. My wife felt someone touching her when were in bed but I slept through the whole thing. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

L. D. said...

That is such a wonderful place to see. Lots of wood.