The Martingale Wharf, a Brief History

Downtown Portsmouth location steeped in tradition

As one of three full-service restaurants in a newly constructed building, Martingale Wharf waterfront dining may be a relative newcomer to the Portsmouth restaurant landscape, but the 99 Bow Street property it resides on has been a downtown landmark for more than a century. Considering it is in closer proximity to the water than any other downtown building, it’s easy to see why. And with the largest deck for al fresco dining in all of Portsmouth, the tradition of the property has never been so vibrant.

Documented history of the historic Martingale Wharf building dates back to September 14, 1892, when the 99 Bow St. property was deeded from Benjamin Webster to Andrew P. Preston. The Preston Laboratory soon opened for business, preparing and mixing medicines and dry goods that were distributed throughout the Seacoast area.

Ownership of the property changed hands quite a bit over the years, as did the activities that went on within its walls. In 1906, the Martingale building began to earn a reputation for “catering” to local sailors and merchants with “ladies of the evening.” After that period of 20+ years it became more of a rooming house, and stayed that way for many years. In fact, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employees often called the Martingale Wharf building home during the World War II era due to the increase in Navy Yard work at that time.