The 10-acre campus of Strawbery Banke incorporates the Puddle Dock neighborhood, so-named for its earliest incarnation as a tidal inlet. Though the inlet has been filled, the tide still affects the groundwater in the land beneath houses such as Shapley-Drisco (above). During King Tide events, where tides average 2+ feet above normal due to the alignment of sun and moon and their proximity to the Earth, groundwater in these basements rises with the tide. Click here or on the photo for a link to a time-lapse video of the King Tide event in the dirt floor basement of Shapley Drisco House on December 5, 2017.

Strawbery Banke is engaged in many projects that may physically extend beyond the 10-acre campus but that impact the future of the museum. Annual Fund gifts help support this engagement and the wider ‘citizenship’ of the museum.

One example of an ongoing project is Strawbery Banke’s work since 2013 with the City of Portsmouth exploring how predicted sea level rise will affect Portsmouth’s built geography. As Rodney Rowland, Director of Special Projects & Facilities at Strawbery Banke Museum and representative on the Local Advisory Committee for the Historic Resource Study for the City commented, “The preservation of our historic houses has always been at the core of our mission.  This partnership with the City helps us prepare for any new threats that might arise in the future from storms.”

Last month, Rodney Rowland joined Nicolas Cracknell, Planner with the Portsmouth Historic District Commission and Peter Britz, Environmental Planner for the City of Portsmouth at the “Keeping History Above Water” conference in Annapolis MD for a presentation on Portsmouth’s “Historic Resources Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan.”

Keeping History Above Water: Annapolis was an international gathering of over 250 experts and practitioners from around the country hosted by the City of Annapolis with support from the Newport Restoration Foundation. Conference discussions examined the increasing and varied risks posed by sea level rise to historic coastal communities, their built environments and traditional ways of life.

The Portsmouth session summarized the city’s Coastal Resilience Initiative (CRI), described as “the City of Portsmouth’s first look at the potential impact from a changing climate [illustrating how] coastal communities like Portsmouth are most vulnerable to impacts of sea level rise and coastal storm surge… and represents a starting point for the City to identify avenues to implement adaptation measures that impart resiliency in the built environmental and protect natural systems.”

Because Strawbery Banke is among the lowest points in the city and a natural conduit for draining water, the presentation Illustrations included photographs of Strawbery Banke and a set of flood elevation maps including the example shown, a vulnerability assessment, a preliminary outline of potential adaptation strategies, and recommendations for future planning, regulation and policies.

This map of the Historic District of Portsmouth NH includes an overlay (in light blue) shows where flooding would occur in the event of a flood elevation of 13.5’ (a '100 year' coastal flood by 2050).  (Image courtesy of the City of Portsmouth)