PORTSMOUTH —It was a blast from the past for Portsmouth city crews, when they discovered a hidden piece of history buried in downtown Portsmouth.
As Portsmouth city crew workers started to address what they thought was a sewer line issue Tuesday behind the Dollar Tree off Chillicothe Street, they caught a ride back in time from a Yellow Cab.
“This building used to be the old Bragdon Clothing or something. After Frank Tiedge died, I bought the building,” Randy Nickles said. “His widow, Pat Tiedge told me a story about Frank discovering the building, so it was kind of ole folklore in the community.”
Nickles shared the story of how Tiedge was at the Bragdon building, which he transformed into his man cave, and that there was a big dig behind his shop. During the excavation, he uncovered a Yellow Cab Company structure which he was able to walk down into and even see car parts.
Although Teidge saw the structure firsthand, it was recovered with asphalt and made into a parking lot, where it has been hidden ever since. Nickles said he recently noticed a hole starting to form in the parking lot, where dollar general semi-trucks would unload, he called the City of Portsmouth to fix the issue.
“The hole was about the size of a baseball and when you looked in it, there was nothing,” Nickles said. “I called the city and they came, and it actually came to the sewer somehow, so they had to investigate.”
Once crews opened the hole up large enough, they found that the story of the Yellow Cab Company structure was true and was still there.
“There were still Yellow Cab parts of the cars down there,” Nickles said. “It’s not obvious what it was actually used for, if it was a garage or a basement, but it’s an interesting find.”
Nickles said while he had heard the story and it piqued his interest; to see it in person was something he has never seen before.
“I’m not really sure what’s next for it,” Nickles said. “We don’t know who owns it or if it’s on city easement.”
Once inside the underground building, city workers explored the structure and found several Yellow Cab car parts, including two doors, bumper signs and taxi signs. Crew members carefully brought out the items and showed them off to others in the area.
“To be honest with you, I’m not sure what the plan is for it,” said City Manager, Sam Sutherland. “We just thought it was a sewer issue and the next thing we knew, we opened it up and there was a basement.”
Sutherland shared while he had heard about places like the covered basement around town, this was the first time he has seen one uncovered one in person.
“It’s neat. It definitely is a part of the town history,” Sutherland said. “At the same time, we have some concerns about the safety of others. It seems like it was built pretty stout.”
Sutherland shared that he remembered the Yellow Cab cars going up and down the streets, when he was a child and that they brought back memories of Portsmouth.
“I remember them from when I was younger. It was right at the end of their time, but I remember them,” Sutherland said. “It’s something you don’t see every day and it definitely is a part of history.”