Chase House

Chase Exterior Back

Year Built:

1762

Year of Interpretation:

1818

The Chase House was the home of Stephen Chase and his wife, Mary. Stephen and Mary were married in 1771, and they had six children: Joseph, William, Mary, Harriet, Theodore, and Sarah.  Only Theodore and Sarah were born in the Chase House. The Chase family also had servants working and living in their home.

After graduating from Harvard, Mr. Chase became a merchant and an investor.  Mrs. Chase oversaw the family home and helped raise the children.  When Mr. Chase passed away in 1805, Mrs. Chase helped her sons, William and Theodore,  run the family business.  Years later, Theodore’s son, George, inherited the Chase House and donated it to the city to be used as a home for orphaned children.

Inside the Chase House, it is 1818.  At this time, Portsmouth and its residents were enjoying the  benefits of a booming maritime trade, with ships traveling between Puddle Dock, England, and the West Indies. In his lifetime, Mr. Chase was particularly successful as a trader and investor, and as a result he was able to provide his family with many expensive and fashionable  items much like those that now fill the rooms in Chase House.

The Chase family were not the first to live in the house.  The house was built in 1762 by a man named John Underwood, who sold it to the Dearings.  Ebenezer Dearing was a ship carver, who we believe is responsible for the carved woodwork that decorates some of the rooms.  The Chases did not move into the home until 1779.

The house itself is very large and much more elaborate than other houses of the same time period at Strawbery Banke.  It has a central hallway, instead of a central chimney, and rooms designed for specialized functions, like dining, entertaining, and cooking.  The more highly decorated a room, the more important it was.  The more formal, decorated rooms would be found near the front of the house, while those which were for everyday use were towards the back of the house.  Take a look at the pictures below.  Can you guess what each room was used for?  Which of the rooms were formal, and towards the front of the house, and which were informal, and towards the back?

Did You Know…
Card games were a popular form of entertainment in the 1800’s, especially among affluent members of society, such as the Chase family. An evening of card games could be hosted in the formal parlor with card tables carefully arranged just for the occasion. Whist, the precursor to Bridge, was among the most popular games. It was considered a quiet, thoughtful game, unlikecards-18c_1 the more boisterous Snip, Snap, Snorem, which would have been more at home in the family parlor. A fast-paced game, Snip, Snap, Snorem can be played with three or more people and a standard deck of cards. There are many variations of this game, but you can give it a try with these basic instructions.