Featured Exhibits at Strawbery Banke Museum
The museum has a rich history that spans four centuries of American life. Throughout the year, special exhibits and programs are developed at the museum to share the real stories of the people that called the Puddle Dock neighborhood of the museum home. These exhibits and programs often pull pieces from the museum's extensive collection that have never been on public display and present them along with the information about what makes the items unique and historically significant. Other exhibits and programs involve the restoration of the historic buildings, gardens, or items from the collections and showcase the museum's unique ability to preserve the past and interpret the history of Portsmouth and the unfolding story of America.
Strawbery Banke Museum Presents Special 2014 Exhibition: “Finding Home: Stories from a Neighborhood of Newcomers”
Strawbery Banke Museum tells the story of 300+ years of American history through the people and places of one waterfront Portsmouth neighborhood. In 2014, Strawbery Banke Museum presents a special exhibition, Finding Home: Stories from a Neighborhood of Newcomers that focuses on that experience. The special exhibition, open May 1 – October 31, 2014 details the arrival, experiences and lifestyle of immigrants in the waterfront neighborhood of Puddle Dock. The subject, a perpetual current event, is as relevant today to the evolution of the United States as it was when Portsmouth was established by English settlers in 1623.
This exhibit focuses on the so-called Great Wave of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The nineteenth century brought greater diversity to the traditionally Northern European settlements of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Immigrants from the Canadian Maritimes, Ireland, Italy, Greece and the Ukraine, along with others, moved in and created a greater mosaic in the neighborhoods at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Often, families of similar backgrounds settled common areas, such as the predominantly Italian neighborhood in Portsmouth’s North End. In Puddle Dock, families of all backgrounds lived and worked together. In 1920, the 596 people in the neighborhood included Russians, Italians, Irish, English, Scots and Canadians, as well as native born. Like their predecessors, these new Americans opened businesses downtown, worked in factories such as the Shipyard, the Morley Button Factory and Eldredge Brewery and operated corner stores.
“By exploring the history of immigration on Puddle Dock, Strawbery Banke Museum traces the expansion of the community while highlighting individuals’ stories,” said Lawrence J. Yerdon, President and CEO. “Puddle Dock’s tradition of welcoming newcomers to this ‘nation of immigrants’ – as we do in particular every Fourth of July when Strawbery Banke hosts an official US Naturalization Ceremony -- is both deep and enduring.” In 2013, 125 candidates from 57 countries including Albania, Ecuador, Togo and Nepal became US citizens at Strawbery Banke.
Among the newcomers in “Finding Home,” visitors will meet Daniel Riordan, who immigrated from Ireland in 1883, worked at the Portsmouth Brewing Company and lived with his wife Ellen in a rented flat in the Thales Yeaton House. Pitt Tavern on the Museum grounds shares the story of John Stavers, English-born proprietor of Pitt Tavern, who made a new life and enjoyed a booming business in New Hampshire’s colonial capital. The Shapiro family joined two dozen Ukrainian Jewish households in Portsmouth at the turn of the century. Mr. Shapiro ran a pawn shop and was instrumental in the founding of Temple Israel in 1905.
The lives of the inhabitants of the Puddle Dock neighborhood and exhibit visitors will illustrate the development of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the United States. The “Finding Home” exhibit includes maps, personal items of immigrants to Portsmouth, archaeological artifacts that help characterize life on Puddle Dock and an opportunity for visitors to record their own personal family stories from neighborhoods of newcomers across New Hampshire and beyond. The Rowland Gallery exhibit includes a recording booth, based on the concept of Story Corps, for visitors to record their own family’s immigration history. These oral histories will be archived at Strawbery Banke Museum and the Portsmouth Athenaeum, becoming tools for future research and preserving chapters of personalized American history.
First Nations Diplomacy Opens the Portsmouth Door:
300th Anniversary of the 1713-14 Treaty of Portsmouth between Colonial English and Native Americans
View of Fort William and Mary c. 1705.
Portsmouth is commemorating the 300th anniversary of the 1713-14 Treaty of Portsmouth between the English and the Native Americans of the Maine and New Hampshire coast with a special exhibit, “First Nations Diplomacy Opens the Portsmouth Door” at Strawbery Banke Museum.
The 300th anniversary of the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth provides an opportunity to understand the history of the era, the nuanced diplomacy of the delegates (English and Native American) and its relevance to contemporary Rights of Indigenous Peoples issues, and the nature of life on the frontier in Portsmouth before and after the Treaty.
From the time that the French established a fort at Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia, Canada in 1607, and the English settled Plimouth in what is now Massachusetts in 1620 and Portsmouth (New Castle) in 1623, their national rivalries and imperial intentions played out against the “First Nations” people who had inhabited the northeast North American coast for 10,000 years. After the decimating epidemic of 1616-19 and war with the Iroquois, the First Nations of the four Maine coastal alliances and families had formed a confederacy of the Wabanaki, the “people of the dawnland.”
For more information about the Treaty and other commemorative programs, click here.
Click here for information about previous Featured Exhibits at Strawbery Banke Museum.