Passionate About the Community
and the Moms Who Live Here

A Mom’s Love Letter To Portsmouth After The State Street Saloon Fire

Dear Portsmouth,

I woke up to news of you burning. I heard helicopters above my house and smelled smoke out my window. It took just a moment on social media for me to find out the details. There was a fire on State Street and it didn’t look good. By daylight, the State Street Saloon and all of 266 State Street collapsed. 

State Street Saloon FireAs a Portsmouth resident, I’m so sad and heartbroken for the loss our city endured and will continue to endure. From the displaced residents of the apartments above who lost everything, to the employees and patrons of the saloon who aren’t sure where their next paycheck will come from–our city is hurting. The State Street Saloon Fire will leave a scar. 

Yet, as a mother I am struck by something incredible. Since I have two kids, I’m always looking for good in our world. For examples of bravery, kindness and generosity so that my children will see that the forces of good are what win here. I want my daughters to see people living out what their father and I try to teach them. We want them to see it is more common for people to choose the light than the darkness. 

And oh, my dear Portsmouth, you have chosen the light.

Thank you to the Firefighters of 44 surrounding communities, from Massachusetts to Maine, who responded to this 5 alarm blaze. Who saved an elderly resident in the early hours of the morning so no one was left behind. 

State Street Saloon Fire

Gratitude to the Portsmouth Police Department who accounted for every single resident of 266 State Street. 

Thank you to Eli Sokorelis, owner of State Street Saloon, who – in the midst of this devastation – was able to say, “Nobody got hurt and that’s the important thing.” 

Thank you to Sean Sullivan, co-owner of the Clipper Tavern. He was the first to spot the fire and call the fire department. Then, he left his tavern open for the rest of the night for the displaced residents to sit and, I imagine, mourn in wonder as their homes burned.

Cheers to Calvin from Starbucks in Market Square. Who, with a giant thermos strapped to his back, offered tired firefighters some much needed caffeine after a night hard spent.  

Love to BRGR Bar because they responded so quickly. They will partner with Favorite Foods with offers of free meals for any resident or State Street Saloon employee for the entire month of April. 

A standing ovation for our beloved Seacoast Repertory Theater at 125 Bow Street for offering their lobby as a drop-off place for toiletries, gift cards and prepaid cell phones. They’re also donating a portion of their proceeds from an upcoming performance of I Could Just Diary. Residents of this city need our help now and will continue to need our help.  

Giving thanks for crowdsourcing sites like this one that offer relief to State Street Saloon employees and displaced residents. 

In awe of Ioanna Raptis’ photographs (from Seacoastonline) and her ability to capture the beauty in this harrowing and devastating moment for our town. 

The power of social media overwhelms me when the (Un)official City of Portsmouth NH Facebook group becomes an incredible resource for people who lost everything and those who want to help them.

**Updates from April 14, 2017

Giving thanks for the many restaurants (BRGR Bar, Portsmouth Brewery, The Rosa, Block Six) for offering free meals to employees of State Street Saloon and 17 people displaced by the fire. 

Grateful that Weekender House offered to donate 10 mattresses to the folks who lost everything in the fire. 

Thankful for Brie’s Boutique for providing a drop box for people to drop off furniture and other household goods our community members will need in starting over. 

Still amazed by the Seacoast Rep with Brian Kelly and Kathleen Cavalaro at the helm. The Rep’s lobby is a “go-to” place for donations (gift cards, etc). If you are someone in need and can’t make it there email [email protected] with your information.

State Street Saloon FireThis is just the tip of the iceberg, Portsmouth. I know you and I see you. You are kind and brave and you are setting one hell of an example for my girls. 

Thank you. I am so very glad we live here. 

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25 Responses to A Mom’s Love Letter To Portsmouth After The State Street Saloon Fire

  1. Sherry Chagaris April 10, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    This brought tears to my eyes. I was born and grew up in Portsmouth. I was moved at the city’s response when the Gas Light Co. burnt down a few years ago and the State Saloon. thank you for recognizing the heroes

    • Allison April 10, 2017 at 9:57 pm #

      Sherry, thank you for this comment. Yes– there are so many heroes in this town. The firefighters were still there over 12 hours later… their efforts saved surrounding buildings. People’s homes and livelihoods! I hope they hear our thanks.

  2. Martha Richdale April 10, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    How can a NH resident living in Florida help those in need as a result of this devastating fire?

    • Allison April 10, 2017 at 9:58 pm #

      A great question, Martha! I would start with the Go Fund Me page I posted above (third blue link up from the last pic). And keep looking at places like Seacoast Online or the (Un) official City of Portsmouth Facebook page (that I linked to). I’m confident there will be events to fundraise and much more.

  3. Joanne Piazzi April 10, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

    After hearing about the fire this morning, and then seeing the video of the United passenger being dragged off the plane, and then hearing about the school shooting in San Bernadino, I was ready to declare the entire human race a total failure. THANK YOU for reminding me of how many good people there are, and for being the parents you obviously are. Do you offer parenting classes? My god, we need someone to teach our children kindness and resilience.

    • Allison April 10, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

      Yes, there are SO many good people out there. They just don’t seem to make the news as much as the other guys. As for parenting classes? I’m planning on letting my kids chat it up with as many people of Portsmouth as possible. I’m pretty sure they’ll be good influences. Their hearts are big and their spirits are resilient. Thank you for this. Much love to you this day.

    • Cynthia Townsend April 11, 2017 at 12:05 am #

      Thank-you Allison, (your story was heartwarming, I’m in tears) and Joanne Piazzi…( I was sitting here after just watching the 6 o’clock news and still fuming about the United passenger, and the horrible news from San Bernadino. Thank-you for your reminder of goodness and humanity.

      • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

        I hear this– it is so very easy to think this world of ours is lost. But I’m grateful to this town to showing us that the world painted for us in the news is often not the reality. Thank goodness. Thank you for reading– xo

  4. John "Supersport" April 11, 2017 at 12:00 am #

    Very well said and thoughtful of you to remind us here on the Seacoast how quick locals are to respond to tragic happenings such as this 🔥. Looking forward to how the NH/ME area residents and businesses can help.

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

      John, we will keep updating this post so that our readers know how they can help!

  5. Amanda April 11, 2017 at 7:49 am #

    BRGR Bar is also doing free food for the residents. Not just the employees! I heard the Brewery ous skiing something similar.

  6. Amanda April 11, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    *is doing

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

      Amanda, Updating the post! There are even more restaurants supporting those affected! BRGR started a wonderful trend.

  7. Michelle Sargent April 11, 2017 at 8:05 am #

    Thank you Allison. So nice to read this, with tears in my eyes, and s reminder of how many great people in our community. My husband and I have so many extended family members and friends that are local firefighters, policemen, EMTs that we knew were in harm’s way for so many hours. Thank God they have all left the scene safe and sound…And as true heroes of our community. Not one of them will accept the hero title..”Just doing my job” they say, but they are extraordinary. Thank you for the positive thoughts this morning as I start a new day. ❤ Portsmouth

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:47 pm #

      Thank you for this. Yes, these heroes often say “I was just doing my job” but my oh my, they are beyond brave and selfless. We are wonderfully lucky to have all these heroes in our midst.

  8. Vicki OConnell April 11, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    <3 <3 <3 Tears in my coffee and I've visited Portsmouth only 4 times. <3 <3 <3

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

      Vicki, it’s a place that sticks with you, to be sure. Please visit us again soon! XOXO

  9. Alison Hill Sweeney April 11, 2017 at 9:24 am #

    Po-town Soul rises again. Portsmouth, NH is where I grew up and am eternally proud of this community. Thank you for recognizing those who stepped up during the immediate emergency. I know there will be more stories of support and kindness to come. From one in exile in GA.

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

      Sending you love from Portsmouth all the way to GA!

  10. Linda and Al April 11, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    My husband and I both born and brought up in Portsmouth. Sorry to hear of this unfortunate incident. I use to take dancing lessons on the top floor of the brick bldg. that is left standing. I also remember where the saloon was used to be Fiorie’s fruit stand, ( years ago). We now live in Topsham, Maine and have no more family in Portsmouth. We do make it home for all our class reunions. Mine was just last year (1966), my husbands will be this year (1962). I have confidence that you will be back to normal soon. Prayers and hugs to all those affected! Linda (Toussaint) and Albert Paisley

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

      Thank you, Linda and Albert! Would love to see any pics you have of the old place. We have such a rich history here in Portsmouth!

  11. C Beane April 11, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

    Thank you for the beautiful letter and recognition to the wonderful people of Portsmouth who never hesitate to jump in when needed. I was born here, left and returned many times but Portsmouth has always been my home and will until I die. Even amid all the new structures and growth, Portsmouth is unique with its quaintness and a energy that connects people with like souls and creates a beautiful unity of community. I am proud to be a resident of this wonderful city and am grateful to all those dedicated, wonderful people who make this the best place to live.

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

      Glad Portsmouth still has your heart. Thank you so much for reading!

  12. Jill Gallant April 12, 2017 at 6:10 am #

    Beautifully written. It warms my heart to know the kind people of Portsmouth haven’t lost sight of what’s really important in life, each other!

    • Allison April 12, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

      I agree, we haven’t lost sight. Thank you!