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Fort Dearborn, Portsmouth

The onset of World War II saw the need for increased protection of Portsmouth Harbor that could not be met by any of the other existing forts of the area. Two batteries of modern twin 6-inch guns (200-series), with a range of 15 miles, and a battery of twin 16-inch guns (100-series), with a range of 25 miles, were planned as part of the new defenses. Fort Foster only had room for one new battery, but there was no space available at any of the other forts without destroying existing batteries, which was deemed unacceptable. The only available land was between Odiorne’s Point and Frost Point in Rye, which at the time was home to several fashionable summer houses on 22 lots. In 1942 the federal government condemned and purchased all of the land between the two points (264.9 acres) and gave all residents 30 days to pack up and leave. In those days, market conditions were depressed, and no one got top dollar. To this day the surviving “old-timers” still feel bitter about the whole affair, mostly because they did not get a chance to get any of it back when the military left. The coastal highway was then closed to the public, which then had to use another route to travel along the coast between Portsmouth and Hampton.