These old pictures of New Hampshire show Portsmouth and the surrounding areas as they looked in 1905. These historical images of Portsmouth come from a series of old postcards mailed by Edmund Noble, a news correspondent who visited New Hampshire to cover the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth. These postcards were sent to Noble’s family, and each of them includes a handwritten note on Noble’s experiences and the progress of the treaty negotiations.

This collection of old Portsmouth pictures includes the Wentworth Hotel, the Portsmouth Naval Yard, Isles of Shoals, and nearby areas such as Newcastle, N.H. and York, M.E. The handwritten notes from Edmund Noble are included so that you can take a glimpse into his life while exploring the Portsmouth of old.

Portsmouth, N.H., Rivermouth Landing

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter Lilly. Text reads:

Aug. 8, 1905.

My dear Lilly. This is the landing at which the Japanese are expected to disembark shortly before noon today. They were expected to be here early enough to take part in ceremonies fixed for 10 a.m., but Messrs. Les Brouillards has “changed all that.” There is now (7a.m.) a possibility of the reception going over again for a day. Trust you are well and improving.

The Hotel Wentworth, New Castle, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Beatrice.

Aug. 8, 1905. Annex.

My dear Beatrice, a few minutes before 12 o’clock last night M. de Witte was driven in an “auto” up to the front of the annex, to which a crowd had raced from the main part of the hotel to see him arrive. The flag over the annex this morning is the Russian flag. The Japanese flag is over the second tower to the left.

Be well and busy.


Wentworth by the Sea was once one of 400 grand hotels situated along the coast and mountains of New Hampshire, and the hotel maintained its international reputation as a premier resort for much of the 20th century. The hotel has hosted celebrities such as Annie Oakley, Gloria Swanson, Harry Truman and Prince Charles.

The Wentworth Hotel was originally constructed in 1874, but the building guests see today was created by local ale tycoon Frank Jones, starting in 1888. The hotel is now operated by Marriott under the name, “Wentworth by the Sea.”

Henderson’s Point prior to excavation

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Beatrice.

Hotel Wentworth. Aug. 10.

Dear Beatrice. I get up about 6:30 a.m. and go to bed about midnight. Am much interested in the work, and haven’t any great amount of time to myself. I should like to have you all here for a few days. I am invited to a camp some miles out next Sunday where a Hindu gentleman is to speak. Hope you are well.


This picture shows Henderson’s Point prior to excavation. President Roosevelt wanted the biggest navy in the world, and that required expanding Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

At the time of its excavation the shipyard was over 100 years old and needed to be expanded so that it wouldn’t pose a navigating hazard for new submarines. To create room for a new, larger dry-dock, an outcropping of land from Kittery, Maine toward New Castle, NH was blown up on July 22, 1905. You can read more at SeacoastNH.

Russian-Japanese Peace Conference building

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his wife, Lydia.

Aug. 10, 7:30 a.m. Wentworth Hotel, Portsmouth.

Dear Ma, The conference began yesterday, but nothing of importance was done today. The exchange of credentials will take place, and perhaps de Witte will be informed of the precise terms which the Japanese demand. The sessions of the envoys will be held on the middle floor of the building. Weather remains fine here. Get evening Herald Aug. 9, for pictures of envoys.


Wentworth Hotel from Little Harbor, Portsmouth, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his wife, Lydia.

Aug. 13, 1905.

Instead of resuming their conference today as intended, the envoys rested from their labors. The Russians went in a tallyho to Portsmouth and there attended service at the Christ Espicopal Church. The afternoon was spent in sightseeing. Cooler weather today. Trust you are all well,


Appledore Hotel and landing, Isles of Shoals, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Beatrice.

Aug. 13, 1905.

An outing to the Isle of Shoals and the “free feed” were offered to the newspaper men, but a Japanese journalist was the only one to put in an appearance; so the outing did not take place. The Japs, it should be said, are moderate eaters.


St. Johns Church.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter Lilly.

Aug. 14, 1905.

Both Russians and Japanese were at church yesterday. The Russians attended Christ Episcopal Church and filled three seats in front of the chancel. The account in Herald. The weather much cooler today. Prospect of early close of conference not yet in sight. Work trying, though full of interest. Few people here get to bed much before 12 or one o’clock. Write me something. Hope you are recovering.


St John’s Chapel was erected in 1732, and the present church as seen in this picture was constructed in 1808. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

New Hampshire, Wentworth Hotel, Newcastle

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Beatrice.

There are between 50 and 100 newspaper men here from all parts of the world. American and English journals most in evidence. Three Russians, seven or eight Japanese, one French […].

– Papa

Haymarket Square, Portsmouth, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his wife, Lydia.

Aug. 17, 1905. Hotel Wentworth, Portsmouth.

Dear Ma. If you will return the letter I shall be obliged. Today is fine and many have left the hotel to enjoy themselves in the country and at the water. I should like very much to have you here. How delighted Lilly would be! But the excitement might not be good for her.

With love, Edmund.

Picture shows The Peirce Mansion and the Ebenezer Thompson home.

Gov. Benning Wentworth mansion. Built 1750

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Lilly.

Aug. 17, 1905. Hotel Wentworth, New Hampshire.

Dear Lilly, There’s fine weather again after the rain. It is said by some that the envoys will not agree, and that they will depart for home in a day or two. I trust the prediction will not be realized. I cannot give you any thing about the conference, but must leave you to get all you want from the papers. I am on the second floor of the hotel, close to the small room where the Russians dine and lunch together everyday. The Japanese visit the public dining room.

With best love, Papa.

Wentworth–Coolidge Mansion is a 40-room clapboard house which was built as the home, offices and working farm of colonial Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. It is located on the water at 375 Little Harbor Road, about two miles southeast of the center of Portsmouth. It is one of the few royal governors’ residences to survive almost unchanged. The site is a New Hampshire state park, declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968.

White Island Light, Isles of Shoals, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Lilly.

Hotel Wentworth, Portsmouth, Aug. 20, 1905.

Dear Lilly. A few of the Russians and Japanese went today on a special trip to the Isle of Shoals. They have (6 p.m.) just returned. Having to remain at the hotel, I contented myself with a stroll to the beach.

With love, Pa.

The Isles of Shoals Light, also known as “White Island Light”, on White Island, in the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire, was first built in 1821. The present structure was built in 1865. The lighthouse and the island are protected by the state as White Island State Historic Site.

Boat landing at Oceanic, Isles of Shoals, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Beatrice.

Hotel Wentworth, Portsmouth. Aug. 20, 1905.

Dear Beatrice. Thank you for your letter and for the greeting from feline friends. Have just received some small mementos of Japan which you shall see when I return home. The Isles of Shoals are in full view from the hotel piazza – four or five miles distant. Celia Thaxter, the poetess, wrote about them. Her father was a lighthouse keeper.

With love, Papa.

Star Island is one of the nine Isles of Shoals located seven miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. In the 1600’s it was the busiest fishing port on the East coast, and in the 1800’s, artists, writers and intellectuals flocked to the Oceanic Hotel – one of the last of the original Grand Hotels. This picture shows the boat landing at that hotel.

The Nubble, York, ME.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Lilly.

Hotel Wentworth, Portsmouth. Aug. 21, 1905.

Dear Lilly. Trust you are improving in health. Today I went for a walk to the village and fort. The hotel is built on an island and has a magnificent beach. Many “transients” come up from Boston […] an afternoon to see the envoys come in and out. The weather is still fine, though slightly warmer.

With love, Papa.

The Cape Neddick Nubble Light is a lighthouse in Cape Neddick, York, Maine. In 1874 Congress appropriated $15,000 to build a light station at the “Nubble” and in 1879 construction began. Cape Neddick Light Station was dedicated by the U.S. Lighthouse Service and put into use in 1879. It is still in use today.

Hotel Wentworth, New Castle, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his wife, Lydia.

Hotel Wentworth, Portsmouth. Aug. 24, 1905.

Dear Ma. Card received. Doubt whether I shall be at home at end of week.


U.S. Navy Yard — Portsmouth, N.H.

Postcard sent by Edmund Noble to his daughter, Beatrice.

Hotel Wentworth, Portsmouth. Aug. 24, 1905.

Dear Beatrice, The conference is postponed until Saturday. The Japanese and Russians are all out visiting today. Have not heard from you since you left home.


The Treaty of Portsmouth was signed on September 5, 1905, ending the 1904–05 Russo-Japanese War. The negotiations lasted from August 6 – August 30 1905, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was instrumental in the negotiations, winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Edmund Noble returned home to his family.

If you enjoyed this trip into New Hampshire’s past, share with your friends using the buttons below or click here to see 33 historical pictures of New Hampshire as it looked from 1930 – 1945.