Construction crews Thursday started raising the curtain on one of downtown's most storied buildings
By: Joe Adler
Date: Friday, Sep 9, 2005
Publication: Portsmouth Herald
Workers began removing scaffolding from the Rockingham House on State Street, revealing from behind rows of protective fabric restored detailing that has been the focus of a four-month, $1 million-plus restoration project of the 1785 building.
Composite material was added to much of the building's deteriorating brownstone, rejuvenating bands of clamshell medallions and other detailing work. The project is scheduled to be finished by the end of the month with the return of the lion statues that have defined the building's front.
The statues were removed earlier this year to make way for scaffolding
"The building was certainly in need of some TLC," said Lisa DeStefano, architect for the project. "What was happening was all of the crisp detailing and artistry had eroded away."
In the 18th century, the building was a mansion for Judge Woodbury Langdon, and then it opened as a hotel in 1833. Fire destroyed the Rockingham Hotel in 1884, but it was rebuilt five years later by then-owner Frank Jones. Over the years, luminaries from John F. Kennedy to Oliver Wendell Holmes are purported to have been hotel guests.
Currently, the building houses 35 private condominiums and the Library Restaurant, opened in 1975, and is one of the sites on the Black Heritage Trail.
"It is a beautiful building," said John Anderson, site manager for the construction firm of DeStefano and Associates, no relation to the architect.
"I marvel at some of the features that you just can't reproduce today."