|History & Mission|
Strawbery Banke is about connecting with the past.
It is a place to gather, a place to learn and is a sustainable resource.
Visitors to Strawbery Banke have the opportunity to experience and imagine how people lived and worked in this typical American neighborhood through nearly four centuries of history. Using restored houses, featured exhibits, historic landscapes and gardens, and interpretive programs, Strawbery Banke tells the stories of the many generations who settled in this Portsmouth, New Hampshire "Puddle Dock" community from the late l7th to the mid-20th century.
Significantly, this site was rescued from the poorly conceived urban renewal policies of the 1950s by conscientious, far sighted citizens. Always maintaining its grass roots origins, there has been no single benefactor underwriting its existence. Strawbery Banke has relied upon and continues to rely upon the generous support of numerous individuals who believe in the importance of preserving a site that so accurately depicts the history of immigrants transforming themselves into a community of American citizens.
Strawbery Banke tells these stories today by preserving an actual community where visitors can connect with the past; serving as a resource for educators, community; and providing a gathering space for the present day Portsmouth community.
I arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the summer of 1963 to become the second employee of Strawbery Banke. Now a respected outdoor museum, Strawbery Banke was then only a paper corporation that hoped to become the redeveloper of an urban renewal area containing dozens of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century houses. Soon after I arrived, it became my regimen to rise before daybreak, gather my tools, and head for the towering boom of the wrecker's crane. That looming shape foretold the day's demolition and marked the place of my predawn work. I would salvage all the doors, paneling, and mantelpieces I could and carry my sad trophies to a place of safety...A quick change of clothes, and I was ready for my nine-to-five office job. By evening, the house from which I had watched the sunrise would be a pile of debris.
Originally named Strawbery Banke by early (1630) British settlers for the wild berries growing there, Strawbery Banke today is unique among outdoor history museums - tracing 375 years of history in one of America's oldest continuously occupied neighborhoods. The 10-acre site, with its authentically restored houses and shops, period gardens, and costumed role players, presents the daily lives of ordinary people who lived here - from Colonial times to World War II, from the mundane to the elegant, from economic boom to war time austerity - in engaging and accessible ways. Strawbery Banke Museum is a capsule of New England seaport life across four centuries.
The Vision of Strawbery Banke Museum is to bring history and people together for delight, discovery, and learning.
In so doing it will:
The collections, and the furnished houses in which they reside, are the context in which Strawbery Banke's stories are told, reenacted, and displayed. These historic objects from across the centuries are the living history that visitors come to see, and, from them, they gain a new appreciation for the significance of the lives that have gone before.
We invite you to come find YOUR place in the unfolding story of America. We look forward to your visit to Strawbery Banke!