The houses history kind of surprised me when I started to research it. Jon Phillips and I lived a block north of this house a couple years ago and I figured as close as we were to the downtown area of Portsmouth, that this end of town was nearly as old as the City of Portsmouth itself; I soon found out I was wrong. This end of town is fairly young as compared to the downtown area. The house at 1623 Fourth street is in the modern east side of town and was only platted in 1923. It was platted in this year as the York Addition and the streets and alleys were transferred to the City of Portsmouth on May 17th, 1923. I am not exactly sure when construction was started on the home but it was built by the York family. Construction on the house was completed in 1924 making it one of the first houses in the York Addition.
I met with the current owners of the home and they were very helpful and aware of the history of their home. They informed me that L. D. York was the original owner of the home, he was a very wealthy man and owned a lumber yard and mill. I see no reason why this wouldn’t be true because there was no mortgage taken out on the home until 1932, and the architecture of the home must have been very costly. After seeing pictures of the inside of the home, which has been kept as original as possible, you can see where the York family had their connections with lumber. The wood working inside this home is very impressive and must have been very costly. The owner of the home informed me that when he was in Graceland the molding in the Graceland Mansion was the exact same style that was in his house here in Portsmouth.
The external architecture of the home is very impressive as well. In my opinion, it is very hard to look at the house as a whole and say it is one style of architecture. There a certain things about the home that make it unique and here are some of my observations:
Ornamental stucco and step but random roof line puts this house under this classification
Craftsman / Bungalow
The front pouch and wing over drive way, the broad feel of the house.
In the back yard there is a place for reflection; used for spiritual or meditation purposes.
This house is still in amazing shape compared to some of the other older houses here in Portsmouth. There are a couple of cracks and minor deformities with the house but after nearly 100 years those tend to happen no matter what. The current owners have did an amazing job of keeping up with these minor things that occur.
I want to thank the current owners of the house Jack and Sheri Spencer for giving me a tour of the grounds and sharing the information that they had collected on their home. The information they have shared with me added a story to the mere dates and names that I found in the Recorder's office.