STRAWBERY BANKE MUSEUM

World of Wendells -- Sea, Commerce & Preservation 

This watercolor and ink on paper Wendell Family coat of arms (2000.274) was drawn in 1804 for Jacob Wendell. The depicted tulip and rose indicate the family’s Dutch and English heritage and the ship flying the American flag surely signifies Wendell’s mercantile endeavors.  The motto, portrayed on three panels, reads “Nec, Asperra, Tennent” which translates to “Difficulties Be Damned.” The artwork was purchased at auction by Strawbery Banke in 2000. 

Merchant and businessman Jacob Wendell purchased a home for his family on Pleasant Street in Portsmouth in 1815; and subsequent generations occupied the house until 1988. Chase House is largely furnished with furniture and other domestic objects owned by the Wendell Family. Strawbery Banke features Wendell Family objects from the museum's and other private collections in this special 2019 Rowland Gallery exhibit.

The Wendell Family, of Portsmouth demonstrated their veneration of family, and dedicated their family ties to help to shape a community.  Like most Americans, the family experienced ups and downs.  What remained was pride of family and that led to a unique time capsule.  First financial restraints, and then family pride ensured that the furniture, ephemera and personal items of one family remain for 21st century examination.  Hundreds of letters from 1800 through the late 1900s detail the personalities and relationships. Photo documentation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries allow for speculation on family values and ideals. 

Thanks to the work of the leadership at Strawbery Banke Museum in the 1980s, Chase House is largely furnished with Wendell furniture and other domestic objects.  These objects and Wendell family heirlooms from private collections are included in the exhibit.

World of Wendells offers a unique glimpse into the lives and times of one family, and their impact on shaping Portsmouth as we know it today. 


An earlier photograph showing the interior of the Wendells' home and furnishings.