Collection Description

The Haven School Neighborhood Digital Collection has been created for several reasons. The library chose to increase access to this important collection because, in part, that is what a public library does, but also because of the importance of this neighborhood to the history of Portsmouth. The members of this community within a community have a story to tell and the nature of that community has dramatically changed.

The core of this collection was scanned from photo albums of historic images of people and places from Portsmouth’s South End; created from the history and stories contributed by the people who actually lived there.

These photographs were gathered in 1982 as part of a reunion of the Puddle Dock area (also known as the Haven School neighborhood for the purposes of this project). Copies of the resulting photo albums were given to Portsmouth Public Library following the Reunion.

Former residents have also generously contributed additional photographs and documents to our digital archive project (see credit line field for attributions), and on-going personal comments have been, and continue to be, added via the commenting feature available with each image.

Other photographic collections have been identified, and it is estimated there will be several hundred more photographs added in the future.

The hope is that this database will be dynamic, in that the computer program being used allows for comments--print and voice-- to be added as the project grows.

OVERVIEW OF THE HAVEN SCHOOL NEIGHBORHOOD: Puddle Dock and the South End are the oldest neighborhoods in Portsmouth, which was settled in 1623. The site of the first building built specifically for a school in Portsmouth was located near the site of the Haven School; built and opened around 1713. In 1846, the Haven School was built. It is a brick structure and contained four graded schools: infant, primary, intermediate, and grammar. In 1969 the Little Harbor School replaced the Haven School. In 1978 the old Haven Elementary School was turned into six condominiums.

The Haven School Neighborhood consists of the South End and the Puddle Dock (now Strawbery Banke) areas. This neighborhood has been central to all that has happened in Portsmouth since its settlement. It is no exaggeration to say that the history of this neighborhood is at the core of the history of the entire City. Whether the focus is Settlement, Revolution, Maritime Activity, Economic Decline, Revitalization, or even Acculturation, the Haven School Neighborhood provides the core for study.

This project was made possible by a group of volunteers from the Haven School Neighborhood. Images and memories will be added to the project as appropriate over time.

If you have stories and photos you would like to share, please contact Sherm Pridham:

At the library, contact Nicole Luongo Cloutier, Special Collections Librarian:


  • Portsmouth Public Library, Special Collections