Thursday, February 09, 2012


"PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- A group in Portsmouth is hoping to rehabilitate an abandoned five-story historic building in the city's downtown area.  The group 3S Artspace has plans to turn the old Frank Jones fermentation building off Islington Street into a 10,000-square-foot performance space, art gallery and farm-to-table restaurant.

"The building was once a hotdog factory and, before that, the largest brewery in the country.
"It's a huge project and one that I have been thinking about in one form or another since I was probably 15 years old," said Chris Greiner, co-founder of 3S Artspace.  The building was abandoned two decades ago and is one of the last buildings of its size available in the city.  "This is the frontier of Portsmouth, if ever there was a frontier in Portsmouth," Greiner said.
Greiner said he has lived in Portsmouth for 10 years and is a part of the arts and music scene. His group's name, 3S Artspace, refers to the three spaces planned for the building.  The project would be a multimillion-dollar renovation, and Greiner said it will rely on community funding.  "We've only been public with our project for a few days and already, the public support has been overwhelming," he said. "Literally overwhelming."  He said he hopes to open a year from now. "

Portsmouth is already an arty town, but the idea of another performance space and a decent-sized gallery is exciting, particularly as the age and style of the Frank Jones building suggests the flexible, ruggedly textured exhibit spaces that have been such successes for showing modern art at Mass MOCA, DIA Beacon, and several other converted industrial buildings.

Frank Jones had been mayor of Portsmouth and a Representative in the U.S. House when he lost the election for Governor of New Hampshire by a small margin in 1880 and rededicated himself to his various businesses which stretched all the way down to South Boston.  He expanded the Portsmouth Brewery in the massive red brick style of classic New England mill buildings. 

The Jones buildings covered a huge area and were very famous.  Most of them are gone now -- big as it seems today, the old fermentation building on the left, above, that Mr Greiner wants to convert is dwarfed by its now absent neighbor with the clock tower.

Jones also rebuilt the famous Rockingham, a handsome red brick Second Empire hotel with magnificent woodwork and stained glass windows, in the center of Portsmouth.  In 1879 he bought and massively expanded both the building and grounds of the Wentworth Hall inn, out of town on the New Hampshire shore, into a Belle Epoque grand hotel now known as Wentworth-by-the-Sea.  Sadly, Jones died three years before the 1905 gathering of international diplomats, military leaders, press and assorted dignitaries when President Theodore Roosevelt brokered the peace talks ending the Russo-Japanese War at Wentworth-by-the-Sea, using the Rockingham and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for associated activities.

The profits from the production of Jones Ale, a quarter of a million barrels of which were produced annually, were enormous, combined with the income from all his other enterprises. He purchased 1000 acres of land on the outskirts of Portsmouth and built Maplewood Farm and enjoyed it with his family for the last four years of his life.

Now shorn of it's 1000 acres and with Maplewood Avenue passing between its front steps and the tree on the left, Jones's home has been broken up into apartments.  But not too far away, one of the last remnants of his vast brewery may be about to take on a new and important role in Portsmouth's cultural life. 


This picture was not taken here at the house.  I found it on the web and wanted to share this delightful scene.  We have deer but they've never come this close to the house.  That we know of.


I LOVE that building and the story. Maybe we'll catch a glimpse of it when we stop in Portsmouth in April!
That questionare is a hoot.
I want to have a loft space in the tower!
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