The New Hampshire Bank took up residence in Market Square in 1803, making it the oldest bank building in the United States. It is within this historic building that RiRa the Irish Pub took life in March 2009. The owners of the group of authentic irish restaurants had been looking for an appropriate location in Portsmouth for several years and were delighted when the old bank building became available.
To preserve as many elements of the bank building as possible and integrate it with the Irish flavor of the pub, the building's original molding, walls, railings, lights and doors were all reused in the restaurant.
The biggest challenge of the project was removing two of the four bank vaults to make way for the kitchen. A one foot-wide granite barrier had to be chipped away at, and railroad track materials had to be sliced through to get at the vaults. Two of the vaults remained as part of the dining experience. A brick wall dividing the two buildings was also removed, clearing the way for an open-concept, two room dining experience.
Throughout the project, parts of the building were discovered that changed the design of the pub for the better. Original tiled floors were uncovered after a later added cement floor was demolished.
Now a popular downtown "hot-spot", RiRa the Irish Pub's historical value and architectural significance lends to its success as much as the perfect pints and Fish and Chips special.