For many years, the front window at Marting’s in Downtown Portsmouth, was the display center of the downtown area. Since the city of Portsmouth purchased the building, nothing has been done with it except for an occasional display. Now, Second Ward Councilwoman Jo Ann Aeh is doing something she has always wanted to do.
“There was so much positivity when we had the Christmas stuff in here,” Aeh said as she swept out the front window at Marting’s. “On ‘You Know You’re From Portsmouth If…’ how many people talk positive about the Marting’s building and how many miss it.”
Aeh asked Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen, if she could put something attractive in the window.
“I said I’d like to see these windows filled all the time and he said he didn’t have time,” Aeh said. “I asked him if I could do it and he graciously let me do it.”
Aeh has both short and long range plans for the large display windows. With help, she pulled existing displays from the window and began the process of cleaning the windows. Former City Councilwoman Ann Sydnor, climbed the ladder and cleaned the front, while Main Street Portsmouth Director Joseph Pratt and his grandmother Mary Pratt, cleaned those on the side of the front.
“We want to clean it up real good. We’re going to make some rules for people who display,” Aeh said. “No advertising, no political, everything positive and upbeat.”
She said she is looking for some mannequins to make the window come alive.
“We’re going to do the windows with some old Marting’s stuff,” Aeh said. “I think at Christmas when we have the big display here, I’d like to see Santa Claus and a Christmas tree represented down there and maybe a menora and some other symbols of other religions in this window down there (motioning to the right). We’re looking at everything positive.”
Aeh said Lisa Carver of the Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce is involved in the project as is Joseph Pratt who said he responded when Aeh suggested the project.
“I told her 110 percent I would be there to help her and support her,” Pratt said. “And that’s what I’m here for.”
Pratt said he was involved in both a personal and a professional role.
“My interests and Main Street’s interests align a lot in most cases and this is one of the cases,” Pratt said. “Marting’s is a major part of Portsmouth’s history and while there are a lot of topics currently making it controversial, there’s no reason that we can’t make it beautiful and a piece of Portsmouth people will still really enjoy and appreciate.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.