Strawbery Banke is unique among outdoor history museums in presenting a authentic neighborhood, with most of the 42 historic buildings on their original foundations. These structures, the earliest dating to 1695, provide our strongest link to the lives of the people who lived in this neighborhood.

Costumed roleplayers In some of the buildings interpret various historical periods by recreating the lives of the people who lived and worked in the houses. The roleplayers based their interpretations on diaries, letters and historical records from the history of Portsmouth. Their costumes are accurate reproductions of clothes from their eras, based on garments in the museum collections, on paintings, drawings and photographs and on research conducted by the museum and the roleplayers themselves.

On any given day at the museum visitors might meet:

  • Mrs. Goodwin, wife of the NH Governor, cares for her garden in 1870
  • John Ragen Jr., son of Mrs. Goodwin’s gardener, tending to the garden in 1870.   
  • Mrs. Dewey, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin, tending the Goodwin’s garden in 1870.
  • Mrs. Stavers, wife of the tavern keeper, carrying out her daily chores at the Pitt Tavern in 1777.
  • Mrs. Mary Fraser, daughter of the tavern keeper, discussing the politics of 1777 at Pitt Tavern.
  • Mrs. Abbott, shop owner of the Little Corner Store, managing her house and store in 1943.
  • Mrs. Tucker, neighborhood lady in 1943, minding the Abbott Store.
  • Mrs. Inez Hoyt, Bertha Abbott’s daughter tending her mother’s corner store in 1943.
  • Mrs. Shapiro, Ukrainian Jewish immigrant in 1919, tends to household tasks in the Shapiro House.
  • Mrs. Capone, visiting Mrs. Shapiro and telling stories of her Italian family and friends.
  • Mrs. Aldrich, widow of the author Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who created a museum and memorial to him in 1908.

Strawbery Banke also welcomes historical re-enactors and additional costumed role-players and craftspeople during the museum's signature events: An American Celebration, NH Fall Festival and Candlelight Stroll.

Watch Richard Spicer perform on his historical harpsichord in the 18th century Pitt Tavern, here.