Sitting on a lot measuring a third of an acre in the town’s South End historic district, along the Piscataqua River, a humble cottage is available for an astonishing $2 million.
“It’s a very sought-after section of Portsmouth,” says listing agent Liz Levey-Pruyn. “The prices are good for what you get.”
In fact, the agent recently sold a two-bedroom house around the corner for $1.6 million.
“Portsmouth is one of the oldest settlements in the country,” says Levey-Pruyn. First settled during the 1630s, the town was incorporated in 1849. Just before the revolution, in 1774, Paul Revere rode into Portsmouth to declare that the British were on their way.
Home to the South End Yacht Club and Esther’s Marina, the South End historic district is a desirable location for home buyers.
Residents enjoy the waterfront setting and access to Strawbery Banke (an outdoor living-history museum), as well as the quick walk to the charming downtown, filled with cafes, restaurants, and an ice skating rink.
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“It’s like a little mini-Williamsburg village,” says Levey-Pruyn.
Many of the homes were constructed during the 1600s and 1800s, which makes tearing them down or drastically altering them illegal, or at least subject to local criticism. But at the same time, today’s modern dweller wants contemporary living, which these historic properties often lack.
“Many of them are small and often don’t have a lot of conveniences like closet space,” says Levey-Pruyn. “This happens to be one of the last undeveloped parcels in the neighborhood.”
That’s what makes this former candy store, a structure relocated to the lot during the 1950s, an anomaly. “Clearly, that’s not what we’re selling,” says Levey-Pruyn about the cottage.
“What we’re selling is the unique opportunity to have a large parcel—or two—to build a really large, substantial home, a family compound, or a nice modern house,” Levey-Pruyn says.
But can a buyer remove the former candy store for a sweeter start? “They will need approval from the Historic District Commission,” says Levey-Pruyn. The case of the $2 million cottage presents a fascinating opportunity. All that’s left is for an enterprising sort to see the potential in Portsmouth.