The Abbott House was both the home of Walter and Bertha Abbott, and the neighborhood corner store. The Abbotts ran the store together starting in 1919. Before that, Mr. Abbott worked for the B&M Railroad and Mrs. Abbott worked for Portsmouth Steam Laundry. The Abbotts had three living children: Grace, Mabel, and Inez, who were grown by the time the shop was opened and never lived in the house.
By 1943, Mrs. Abbott was a widow. After her husband’s death, Bertha ran the store with the help of a local teenager named Leslie Clough. Leslie would work for her before and after school. Mrs. Abbott continued to run the store until her retirement in 1950.
Although the Abbott House is one of the oldest structures in the neighborhood, we use it to show what life was like in 1943. At this time, the United States was fighting in World War II. Because of the war, many of the items in Mrs. Abbott’s store were rationed. Rationing was a system put in place by the government to ensure that everyone, including the soldiers fighting overseas, received their fair share of food and other items.
You can explore both the Abbott store and the Abbott’s kitchen. The upstairs is not open to visitors, but that is where Mrs. Abbott had her bedroom and living room.
Take a look at the kitchen and store pictures below. Do you recognize any of the objects in each room? What is not in the kitchen that we see in our own homes? Does the store remind you of the grocery stores we typically shop in today? Come up with some of your own ideas to answer these questions and then click on the pictures to see some of ours!