ranks Portsmouth as a 'pretty city'


By: Jennifer Feals
Date: Thursday, Apr 29, 2010
Publication: Portsmouth Herald

PORTSMOUTH— Seacoast residents can see Portsmouth is an attractive place to live, work and play, but now that has designated it one of America's 20 Prettiest Towns, the rest of the country can see it, too.

The magazine's Web site credited Portsmouth — alongside Burlington, Vt., Crescent City, Calif., Savannah, Ga., Aspen, Colo. and others — as an American city that is "exceptionally pretty just about any time of the year, whether for architecture, aesthetics or small-town charm."

"I'm thrilled that others are recognizing what we as community members already know," said Lisa DeStefano, owner and principal of Portsmouth's DeStefano Architects.

A group of experts describe Portsmouth as a functioning modern community and a museum piece. The experts include Salt Lake City, Utah-based architectural photographer Alan Blakely; Bob Krist, photographer and host of PBS' "Restoration Stories;" and Sarah Tuff Dunn and Greg Melville, co-authors of "101 Best Outdoor Towns." describes Portsmouth this way: "Brick buildings, many of them original to the era of the tall ships, line small streets and alleys. Yet, many of those same buildings house high-tech businesses and startups."

"I think they're telling the truth," said Assistant Mayor Nancy Novelline Clayburgh, adding Portsmouth is "one of the most picturesque cities" she's ever seen. "I think we're all really proud of that."

There is a "comfortable" scale to the city, DeStefano said, which is to Portsmouth's benefit.

"Whether it's the width of the street and the sidewalks or the height of a building, there's a familiarity of materials that are seen in our older buildings, but yet with our newer architecture, we are respecting the history without replicating," she said. "That, therefore, brings interest to all of the streets, the city blocks and the districts."

Mayor Tom Ferrini said it's a pleasure to hear the city has "topped yet another national list." The city's list of accolades includes recognition as one of the top 30 cities for jobs in America, one of the top arts and culture centers in the U.S. in May 2009, and one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" in 2008.

While these recognitions mean a great deal to the city, Ferrini said they can be attributed to the community, which contributes to Portsmouth's quality of life and should take some credit.

"Portsmouth should feel proud that many have had a hand in making these designations come our way," Ferrini said. "We have a lovely community that is a great place to live on many, many levels, and that's the result of many people doing hard work for the community over many years. Not to mention an attractive bone structure, if you will."

Portsmouth's national recognition shows the city and its residents are on the right track, DeStefano said.

"It just goes to prove that we're doing the right thing in preserving, but also looking at growth and development in the city and how it continues to accent our history but look forward to the future of what is best for our area," she said.

Hopefully, the recognition will boost Portsmouth's tourism industry, encouraging tourists to see the city's historical, cultural and contemporary sights, Clayburgh said.

"It's unique because we do have the mix of history and culture," she said. "We're a small town, but we have entities like Strawbery Banke and The Music Hall within a mile of each other. Plus, the wonderful restaurants, fabulous shops — it's a perfect setting."

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