Market Square has been the economic and commercial center of Portsmouth since the mid-1700s. It has been a military training ground, site of a meeting house and home of the State of New Hampshire’s Colonial Legislature. In 1762, it became the first area in the city to be paved, paid for by public lottery.
A fire in 1802 destroyed many buildings, but they were immediately rebuilt in brick. Today, the square’s north side is recognized as one of the finest surviving examples in America of early 19th-century commercial blocks.
Towering North Church, constructed in 1854 to replace the meeting house built in 1713, dominates the eastern side of the square and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.