In 1813, a great fire swept through Portsmouth and destroyed much of the city, from Pleasant Street down to the Piscataqua River. Following the fire, a row of brick commercial buildings known as the Exchange Block was built. In 1857, a new structure, designed by Boston architect S.S. Woodcock, was built at the end of the Exchange Block. It was a local landmark design that towered over its Pleasant Street neighbors.
The Rockingham Bank, established in 1813, occupied this building until 1865, when it was succeeded by the Rockingham National Bank, which closed in 1905 without a successor. Piscataqua Savings Bank purchased the building in 1905; however, it didn’t move to the location until 1925.
Several of these Exchange Block buildings now form the quarters of Piscataqua Savings Bank. The merging has been so skillfully done that customers often don’t realize that they’re stepping from one building to another.
A Bank With a Green Thumb
When the courthouse was moved to Exeter in 1960, the Bank placed a bid for the building but was not successful. The building’s new owner, Seaward Construction Company, demolished it and installed a lot for rental parking. Then, in 1969, the parking lot was offered to the Bank, which immediately purchased it.
In 1978, the parking lot was completely redesigned with landscaping and gardens to create a park-like environment. We’ve continued to beautify our grounds ever since. Today, the gardens have been expanded, granite work laid and a wrought iron fence installed. Called “an urban oasis” by Accent Magazine, our gardens have been the backdrop for tourism and wedding photographs and are enjoyed by the community year after year.