John Paul Jones House Exhibition: The Odd & The Elegant

John Paul Jones House Odd and Elegant

Open until October 10, 2016

John Paul Jones House 2016

Photograph by Ralph Morang

John Paul Jones House, a National Historic Landmark, is open seven days a week from 11 am-5 pm, until Columbus Day, October 10, with special one-day opening on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016, when admission is free. New this year are renovations to the historic home, Lead Guide Jessica Kliskey, and a special exhibition entitled, The Odd & the Elegant, curated by Gerry Ward and Lainey McCartney.

John Paul Jones House 2016

Photograph by Ralph Morang

Gerry Ward, curator, said, “It is a great pleasure to open the doors of the John Paul Jones House for the summer season. Once again, our visitors will have access to this grand Georgian mansion, built in 1758 and filled with collections pertaining to four centuries of Portsmouth’s history. This year, in addition to the several galleries devoted to John Paul Jones, the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty signed in Portsmouth in 1905, Portsmouth’s maritime history, and local paintings and decorative arts, we are featuring a special exhibition of amazing objects ‘discovered’ in storage, treasures that rarely see the light of day.”

About the exhibition, The Odd & the Elegant

John Paul Jones House 2016

Photograph by Ralph Morang

An historical society is many things to many people. The Portsmouth Historical Society, founded nearly a century ago, is home to an amazing collection of art and artifacts assembled since the John Paul Jones House opened its doors to the public in 1920. Principally given by many generous donors, these three-dimensional artifacts complement the Society’s rich holdings of manuscripts, photographs, and other documents on deposit at the Portsmouth Athenaeum. This exhibition includes more than one hundred carefully selected objects from the Society’s collection that illustrate the wide-ranging, eclectic nature of this Society’s holdings. Widely varied in date and material, these objects represent one community’s attempt over time to preserve the tangible goods that represent its history. The exhibition includes:

  • Many “icons of continuity” that preserve the memory of deceased ancestors—a critical function of any museum collection.
  • Some almost medieval-type reliquaries—associated with local people, events, and landmarks.
  • Extraordinary silver, fans, woodwork, and other objects that demonstrate the significant aesthetic achievements of artists and craftsmen and the taste of local consumers
  • A group of locally owned ceramics, made around the world in China, Europe, England, and North America
  • Several exotic, unusual, and even “odd” items that were thought to be worthy of preservation, often reflecting out-moded customs or obsolete technology.
  • A number of “curiosities,” such as an ostrich egg and a seventeenth-century Syrian tile, that cause one to wonder what their connection to the history of Portsmouth might be!

About the renovations

Reagan Ruedig, chair of the institution’s Building and Grounds Committee: “We have focused on the work that was part of our LCHIP grant for the exterior restoration of the John Paul Jones House. This included the replacement of the roofs on both the main house and the Carriage House, clapboard and trim repairs, and structural repairs. We still have more exterior wood repairs and a new paint job to complete this spring. The committee has had help this past year from volunteers, as well as pitching in their own time and muscle, to mend fences, clean out storage areas, paint, dig and mulch where necessary to keep up our property. We are happy to now have Gerry Ward as our curator to guide us with interior changes and updates, and we work with our gardener Katherine Sullivan to maintain our gardens as an inviting space for the public to enjoy. We have a long list of to-do items still to tackle in the upcoming years, but we are happy that these historic buildings are getting the needed attention they deserve.”

About John Paul Jones House: hours, admission

The John Paul Jones House is located at 43 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801 and is open from 11am-5pm. Admission is $6; $5 for Portsmouth residents, AAA, Seniors and retired Military. Members of the Portsmouth Historical Society, children under 12 and active military personnel and their families are free. Group rates available; tours are self-guided; the last tour begins at 4:30pm.

About John Paul Jones

Father of US Navy: “I have not yet begun to fight!”

Scottish-born naval captain and colonial America’s first sea warrior, John Paul Jones visited New Hampshire twice. In 1777, he took the Portsmouth-built Ranger with a Piscataqua crew to France. There he worried the British in a series of guerilla raids before his famous battle on the Bon Homme Richard. Later, as a hero decorated by the king of France, he returned to Portsmouth to fit out the America, the largest ship of war ever built in the nation to that day. While he was here, Jones stayed at the Purcell House, today the John Paul Jones House.

About National Historic Landmarks

A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, or object that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding degree of historical significance. Out of over 85,000 places that have been listed on the country’s National Register of Historic Places only about 2,500 are recognized as National Historic Landmarks. There are eight sites in Portsmouth: the USS Albacore, Richard Jackson House, John Paul Jones House, Governor John Langdon House, Warner House, Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden, Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, and Wentworth-Gardner House.

Links to Published Articles

Art New England: Three Centuries of Art and History at the Warner House