Portsmouth NH Red Light District
The Gloucester House
Not fewer than ten brothels existed on Water Street at the height of its notoriety. The Gloucester House was generally regarded as the most refined and its prostitutes commanded the highest rates in town. The building stood at the corner of State and Water Streets. The madam was the colorful Mary Baker, a statuesque beauty who is said to have sported two diamonds inset in her front teeth.
Photograph of Gloucester House, Patch collection. Courtesy of Strawberry Banke Museum.
Charles "Cappy" Stewart operated a thriving brothel and saloon at 51 Water Street, opposite the then-defunct Marine Railway. From 1897 to 1912, he was arrested only twice, neither offense involving prostitution. After the city's clampdown on vice, in the area, he became a successful dealer in antiques.
Photograph of Charles "Cappy" Stewart. Courtesy of Strawberry Banke Museum
Beginning in about 1877, Four Tree Island, owned by Charles E. Grey, was used as "a place of entertainment" featuring prostitution and cock fighting. A dance hall and a small museum there housed such things as shoes worn by Jesse James and numerous stuffed animals. Much of this collection was destroyed by a fire in 1906. Today the island is a public park, accessible by causeway just past the Pierce Island Bridge.
Photograph of Four Tree Island courtesy of Portland Athenaeum
Chief Marshall Thomas Entwistle
For years City Marshall Thomas Entwistle, an Irish immigrant, Civil War hero, and highly popular officer in the town ensured that his force would have little to hamper the operations of the brothels and saloons on Water Street. It was commonly believed that he did so on the behest of city officials, many of whom were reputed to be frequent patrons of the brothels. Entwistle resigned from the force in 1912, bowing to intense pressure from a new city administration.
Photograph of City Marshall Thomas Entwistle courtesy of the Portsmouth Police Department.
Scene before the creation of Prescott Park
The waterfront area remained seedy long after the brothels and saloons were cleaned out. It was not until the 1930's and the creation of Prescott Park that it slowly began to acquire its present landscaped and gentrified appearance.
Erected 2015 by City of Portsmouth.
Location. 43° 4.549′ N, 70° 45.114′ W. Marker is in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in Rockingham County. Marker is on Marcy Street. Touch for map. Marker is located across the street on Marcy Street from the existing Liberty Pole and Bridge marker. Marker is in this post office area: Portsmouth NH 03801, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Liberty Pole and Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Portsmouth NH Marine Railway (within shouting distance of this marker); Point of Graves (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Point of Graves (about 300 feet away); Sheafe Warehouse (about 400 feet away); Oracle House (about 500 feet away); James (Stavers) (about 600 feet away); Memorial Bridge 1923-2012 (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portsmouth.
Categories. • Entertainment • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on July 28, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 26, 2016, by James R. Murray of Elkton, Florida. This page has been viewed 211 times since then and 95 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 26, 2016, by James R. Murray of Elkton, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.