Built ca 1867 for John Barbour & Jane Barbour Staples.
A fine, if somewhat remuddled, Second Empire double house in the India Street neighborhood.
Portland’s symbol is the Pheonix. The mythical bird that would rise again from its own ashes. For Portland, having returned after 4 instances of major conflagrations, it is a fitting emblem. Our subject location, just off Congress Street, has born witness to 2, and possibly 3, of those events.
Robert Barbour came to Portland around 1795 settling on Franklin Street. He opened a store on Exchange Street in 1799 where he sold and made boots and shoes. His biggest claim to fame was, in 1801, selling the first rubber-coated footwear in the city. It was said he traveled to and from Salem Massachusettes to purchase some of the first such items imported into the country. He and his wife Jennie had two children, John in 1805 and Jane in 1808. In 1813, Robert purchased our subject property from a mariner named William Toby.
Portland’s first conflagration was in 1675 during “King Philip’s War”. All the structures standing were destroyed. By 1680, much of the town of Falmouth was rebuilt. In 1689-90, during “King William’s War”, the town was again destroyed by a combined force of natives and French troops. All buildings were destroyed and several dozen citizens were killed. The maps for that period were mostly created later, the one above is from 1885, so we cannot say for sure if there was anything on Hampshire Street.
The building is a box 48 feet wide by 32 feet deep with each unit having different ells at the rear. All these are made of brick and are 2 full stories in the clear with a third in the Mansard roof. There is an addition on the roof of #60 which deserves the ‘remuddling’ stigma. Details are limited. A band molding at the base of the entablature and the saw-tooth architrave are the only things to break the surface of the body other than windows and doors.
1775 was a momentous year for the nation and Portland. The events at Concord and Lexington roused significant anger in town. Some young men marched south to join the fighting while many stayed put and endeavored to support the cause as best they could. One of the ways this was done was by not doing business with British merchants or the Royal Navy in any form. When a merchant named Coulson arrived in the summer to pick up a load of masts and spars he had contracted for, he was not allowed to load. After failing to convince to locals otherwise, Coulson left only to return soon after under the protection of the Royal Navy vessel Canceau and it’s commander Henry Mowatt. Coulson was finally allowed to load but, before that, things got a bit out of hand.
On May 7 of 1775, Captain Mowatt, along with several of his staff and the local minister, was walking on Munjoy Hill when they were ambushed by a group of radicals from the Brunswick area under the command of one Samuel Thomspon and taken hostage. After a couple of tense days of negotiation during which time several bands of militia from Cape Elizabeth, Gorham, and others arrived and one, possibly inebriated, individual took a couple of potshots at the Canceau with a pistol, Mowatt and the others were released. Mowatt and Coulson soon left although Coulson returned about a month later to load his cargo. Captain Mowatt would not be seen again until October. And when he did come back, he had revenge on his mind.
Robert Barbour died in 1832 by which time John had joined the company. 1832 was also the year that John married the 20-year-old daughter of a Portland grocer named Catherine Goold. Their first child, Robert, died in infancy in 1833. Charles was born in 1834. He also died in infancy. Sarah was born in 1837 and died in 1850. Henrietta was born in 1839, the same year Catherine died. In 1841, John married Elizabeth Russell who was from Ipswich Mass. They had one son, Edward, in 1845. Edward would, in time, join the company with his father.
Jane Barbour married a hay merchant from Gorham named Samuel Staples in 1835. They had 4 sons and a daughter. One son, Robert, died in infancy in 1846 which was the same year Samuel died. The Staples lived next door to John on Hampshire Street.
On October 16, 1775, The Canceau and other vessels were sighted off Portland Head in Cape Elizabeth. Weather conditions slowed the fleet’s entry into the harbor and it wasn’t until the morning of the 17th that Canceau anchored in the harbor and Mowatt addressed a group dispatched to meet with him. His orders were to destroy the town so as to ‘set an example’ to others and to punish the town for the actions in May. There was to be no ‘quarter’. After much pleading, Mowatt gave the citizens until 8 am on the 18th to evacuate. So it was, on the morning of October 18, 1775, that most of the town was leveled in 8+ hours of activity. Although we cannot say for sure if there were any buildings on our subject site, the courthouse which stood nearby was certainly destroyed. The oft-told story of Alice Greele (Greely) and her eponymous tavern, which was across Hampshire on the eastern corner of Congress, then Back, Street, saving her property by “carrying off cannonballs with a frying pan” also would suggest what if anything was there was destroyed.
John Barbour served on the Portland City Council in 1862. He was a member of the Odd Fellows and other fraternal organizations of the day. He was a founder, along with Asa Clapp and others, of the Widow’s Wood Society which insured destitute widows would have sufficient fuel to heat and cook during the cold seasons. All along, John & Elizabeth, and Jane next door, raised their families on Hampshire Street while looking to the future. Then, on the anniversary of American independence, and after a bloody civil war, everything changed.
Much has been written on the Great Fire of 1866. Some of it on this very blog. 1800+ buildings destroyed. 10,000+ people left homeless. For the Barbours and Staples, it was a complete loss. Much like the Gerrish family on Locust Street, the family home here on Hampshire Street and the family business on Exchange Street were totally destroyed. These areas were some of the most ‘burned over’ with only unusable brick and stone left behind. But, the Phoenix rises again and the city rebuilt. John and Edward reopened the business in a new building on Exchange, seen below, and our subject house was finished enough for the families to move in by mid-1867.
Jane Barbour Staples died in 1882. Her son Charles had served in the Civil War and became a well known and respected shipmaster. He died the following year leaving Caroline to carry on. John Barbour died in 1888. Elizabeth sold 62 Hampshire Street to a Mary Morse of Scarborough in 1891. Mary sold it 2 months later to Charles Dunlap of Portland.
Caroline Staples lived at 62 Hampshire Street, except for a while around 1894 when she was residing in Minneapolis, until she sold the property in 1915. She was never married. In fact, the 1910 Census seems to indicate she was gay. She is listed as the homeowner at 67. Living with her was a 60-year-old widow named Mary Parker. Mary was noted as Caroline’s ‘companion’. Also living at 62 Hampshire in 1910 was a 62-year-old widow named Adaline Sawyer and her 18-year-old daughter Lillian & an 87-year-old widow named Catherine Snow and her 24-year-old daughter who was also named Catherine. One wonders what the neighbors thought.
As the first floor facades are exactly symmetrical and there is no second floor bay on #60 Hampshire, it’s safe to assume that the second floor bay on #62 is not original. This is backed up when we look closer. The second-floor bay has none of the proportions or details, but for the dentils and they are of different sizes and spacing, of the first floor. In a way, this is a shame as the bay on #60 has a very expressive roof and on #62 we are left with a flat cornice with no character.
Charles French Dunlap was born on a farm in Andover Maine in 1845. He married Celia Stone of Montpelier Vt in December of 1866. In 1868, Charles jr was born. Maurice was born in 1872 by which time the Dunlaps were living in Auburn and Charles was working as an insurance agent. When the came to Portland is not clear. The first time either Charles or Celia show up in the registry of deeds is when Charles purchased #60 in 1891. That deed lists them as residents of Portland at the time of purchase. I cannot find either of them in the 1880 census.
In 1894 Charles Dunlap applied for permission to build a stable on the lot next door. It seems it was initially approved but a group of neighbors petitioned for a review. Their remonstrance is a classic of Victorian-era eloquence.
We, the undersigned residents and property owners adjacent to the property of Charles F. Dunlap, 60 Hampshire Stret (sic), remostrate against the building of a stable by said Dunlap, on the grounds that will cause danger by fire and a nuisance by reason of stench and noise. We feel that something should be done to protect those who do not have stables and allow them the air of heaven to breathe without being laden with the storng stench of stables within the reach of one’s hand from the window of his house.
Amongst the signatories to this document was Samuel F Colesworthy Jr. Colesworthy was a bookseller whose family had long resided in, and owned many properties, in the neighborhood. He was listed as owning 5 houses near the proposed location of the stable. From the article in the June 23, 1894 edition of the Portland Daily Press it may be surmised that Mr. Colesworthy had his eye on #60 but he was unsuccessful in acquiring it. The paper noted Colesworthy, “told of how Dunlap had obtained the property and intimated that he had not used him fairly and declared that he would not soft soap him again: that it was a long road with no turning and he would get even with him sometime”. As the above photo shows, Dunlap got his stable. No word on if Colesworthy got his ‘revenge’
Caroline Staples sold #62 Hampshire Street to Mark Sulkowitch in 1915. She boarded in a couple of different locations in the city before passing away in 1930 at 89 years of age. Sulkowitch was a Russian emigre who operated a pawn shop on the corner of Fore and Market Street. He sold our subject to one of his clerks named Jacob Silverman the following year. Jacob was Lithuanian and had come to the Us with his widowed mother Ida in 1900. He married Tillie Berman in 1915. She had come from Lithuania in 1910. Until their purchase of #62, they had been living with the Sulkowitch family on Vine Street. They would have 5 children, 3 girls, and 2 boys while living on Hampshire Street. They sold it to Jacob’s brother Max in 1930 and moved to Montreal Street.
Charles Dunlap died in 1913. Celia continued to live at #62 Hampshire Street in 1932. The property was sold to Dominic Taliento the following year. Dominic and Mary Taliento ran a grocery store on Federal Street. They had a son and daughter when they moved in and had 2 more sons and a daughter by 1940. They lived in the second-floor apartment while his uncle Louis & his wife Michelina lived on the first floor with their 9 children. Louis was a barber. Dominic’s cousin Frank lived on the 3rd floor with his wife Nora. Frank was a chauffeur for a beer company. Louis’ sons Ralph and John, who ran a cigar shop in Monument Square, operated a wholesale tobacco business, Tally’s, from #60 Hampshire for many years. One final member of the Taliento family of note was Bruce. he was born in 1951 and in 1977 became the youngest person to serve as mayor of Portland. He served one term before being named to a position in the Maine State Government. In 1980, he pled guilty to 32 counts of embezzlement for fraudulently inflating insurance claims. He was sentenced to 32 months which he served. He was pardoned by Governor Joseph Brennan in 1990.
#60 Hampshire Street is listed as a 4 family apartment block. Condition is very good.
#62 Hampshire Street is listed as a 5 to 10 family apartment block. Condition is very good.
The Portland tax assessor places a build date of 1840 for #60 and 1900 for #62. Okay.
Correction: Dominic Taliento…
Dominic Taliento’s “parents” (Louis and Michelina lived on the first floor of 60 Hampshire St. with Dominic’s “brother’s” Ralph and John and other siblings. It was another brother of his, “Frank”, that lived on the 3rd floor with wife Nora.
Dominic was my grandfather. My mother, Diana Taliento-Harris, and my brother Richard , and I, lived on the 3rd floor above my grandparents (Dominic and Mary) for a couple years around 1968-1970.
Note: My grandfather (Dominic) built the building to the right side of St. Peters church when he expanded from his smaller storefront on the corner of Federal and Hampshire. Later he built that whole plaza on the corner of Hampshire and Congress St. and moved the business there.
John J. Harris
Thank you for this.