Portsmouth, NH Pickering Block Fire, May 1898

The fire was mostly confined in the office of Lawyer Guptill, but the damage to the rest of the occupants of the building by water will be enormous.

On the top floor the Warwick club have their rooms, the furniture of which will be damaged several hundred dollars’ worth by smoke and water. Fully covered by insurance.

On the second floor is situated Dr. Blandell’s dental parlors, which escaped with the least damage; Dr. Cheever, Lawyer Guptill and Judge E. H. Adams each have two rooms on the same floor. Of these Dr. Cheever will suffer considerable from smoke and water, which is fully covered by insurance; Lawyer Guptill will suffer a total loss of all his furniture; Judge Adams, loss about $200 from smoke and water.

It is believed that the large dry goods stock of Lewis E. Staples was not damaged to any extent.

The origin of the fire is a mystery and but for its prompt discovery and the splendid work of the fire department would undoubtedly been the worst one for years in this city.

The building was owned by John J. Pickering and is also fully covered by insurance.


A number of pieces of fire apparatus went off on the wrong track last evening which made them a little late at arriving at the fire.

Chief Engineer Randall was one of the first on the scene and did a wise thing in sending out a second alarm.

It was one of the worst fires to get at that the firemen have experienced for some time, all on account of the dense smoke.

The value of a night watchman at the city stables was demonstrated last evening by the neatness and despatch{sic} with which the horses were got underway.

A number of the friends of Superintendent Simpson were very much worried for fear that he had suffocated in his room.

Five engines were stationed on the parade during the fire last evening but only part of them were called upon.

The water ran down the front stairs of the main entrance in a perfect torrent and at one time the water in the front hall on the first landing was over eight inches deep.

Assistant Driver Fernald of the Chemical was reported this morning none the worse for his narrow escape from suffocation last evening.

Several bags of shoes were hastily gathered together in the front part of Duncan’s shoe store and then taken to a place of safety during the conflagration.

The origin of the fire still remains a mystery although there are a number of theories as to how it caught.

C. Fred Duncan had just put in his summer stock of shoes which will make his loss all the more severe.

Portsmouth Herald, Portsmouth, NH 3 May 1898