With COVID restrictions in place we have not been able to open the buildings of the Portsmouth Historical Society. We have hopes that guidelines will ease, but we can still give you a virtual tour of our properties.

The Old Town Hall on the grounds of the Portsmouth Historical Society houses the society’s collection of farm tools and horse drawn vehicles. Among the gems in our collection, is the last horse drawn mail wagon that was used in Portsmouth. John Pierce’s Historical Tracts of the Town of Portsmouth gives us a good history of the wagon.

This horse drawn mail wagon dates back to 1902 when Abner Anthony purchased it when a post office opened on the corner of Clearview Avenue and East Main Road to serve South Portsmouth. Mail to this post office was labeled “Melville Station, Newport.” Abner served for 43 years, first delivering mail by bicycle and then by horse and wagon. Pierce tells us that when this post office closed in 1918, Abner bought a Model T Ford and traded the wagon to Frank Fortner for 12 chickens. Frank was the carrier for the Newtown Village office.

Fortner used the wagon for some time and eventually it found its way to Tiverton. The wagon was then retired to the Taylor barn in Island Park. When that building was torn down in 1958 the wagon was given to letter carrier Roland “Pete” Tremblay who donated it to the Portsmouth Historical Society.

Last Mail Wagon from John Pierce Collection

The mail wagon was originally painted green, but you will find it painted blue and white today. The Portsmouth Historical Society used it as our “float” for the 375th parade.

Last Mail Wagon in 375th Anniversary Parade