The Caterpillarmobile Stopped By!

The Caterpillarmobile Stopped By!

Rachel Eskridge, associate registrar at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, made quite the entrance in the company car. She was here helping to install the works of art by Eric Carle and Ashley Bryan on loan from the ECMPBA for Imagine That!

The exhibition opens Friday, May 6 at 10 am! We will be open until 8 pm that night for Art ‘Round Town, with a small performance of the Knave of Hearts by students at Rye and Milton Elementary Schools at 6 pm.

Then, on Saturday May 7 at 10 am, we’ll be featuring a little extension of Strawbery Banke’s Baby Animals event with ducklings in the gallery, as well as original artwork from Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings!

Newburyport Bank Sponsors New Welcome Center Film

We would like to thank Newburyport Bank for being the exclusive sponsor for our new welcome center film, which will be produced over the summer and launch this fall in celebration of the Portsmouth 400th anniversary.

Jo Ann Klatskin, Senior Vice President & Non-Profit Manager of Newburyport Bank and Sue Ann Pearson, Director of Development at Portsmouth Historical Society.

Hat Tip to the Hotel Portsmouth

A big shout-out to The Hotel Portsmouth for providing accommodations for our guest speakers for our upcoming exhibition Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books. We appreciate the support from our business community and thank them!

StrathamWood Studios Delivered the Bookmaking Station to the Gallery

Roger Myers of StrathamWood Studios in front of the bookmaking station he made for Imagine That! We asked for something sturdy and functional, but what we got was a beautiful piece of woodworking. Many, many thanks!

History. Arts. Culture.

Celebrate Captain Jones April 24th

Celebrate Captain Jones April 24th

Modern reproduction of N.C. Wyeth (1862-1948), Captain John Paul Jones (1938). Portsmouth Historical Society; The James C. and Judith R. Bradford Collection.

Celebrate the anniversary of one of the most important battles of the American Revolutionary War: Captain John Paul Jones and the Ranger versus the HMS Drake in the North Channel naval duel.

Sunday, April 24  •  1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

John Paul Jones House, 43 Middle Street

We will celebrate how John Paul Jones as captain of the Ranger changed the course of the American Revolutionary War in April, 1778.  New Hampshire has always been noted for building wonderful ships, including the USS Ranger, built in Portsmouth.  John Paul Jones stayed in the house at 43 Middle Street while the Ranger was being built.  In April 1778,  Jones, in command of the Ranger, attacked Whitehaven, England; attempted to kidnap the Earl of Selkirk; and, on April 24, 1778, defeated HMS Drake off the western coast of Great Britain.

Attendees will include Rear Admiral Samuel J. Cox, USN (Ret.), Portsmouth Mayor Deaglan McEachern, members of City Council, and Dr. James Bliss, PhD, a noted expert on John Paul Jones.

Naval Color Guard Ceremony

Local Dignitaries & JPJ Experts

Live Music • Food & Drink

Big Changes in the Gallery

Big Changes in the Gallery

Will and Alex from Spokeshave Design installing our sculptural mobile in the center of the Academy Gallery. The space is being truly transformed for our upcoming exhibition, Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books, opening May 6. Stay tuned for more!


A Brief History of the John Paul Jones House

Part 5: Portsmouth’s Most Famous Tenant

Sketch by the late maritime scholar and artist William Gilkerson of the USS Ranger, built at Portsmouth Harbor in 1777. Used by permission.

By J. Dennis Robinson

With a crew including men from the Piscataqua region, John Paul Jones waged what amounted to a one-ship war along the coast of Great Britain during the American Revolution. Although his guerilla raids aboard Ranger in 1778 caused little damage, they had a chilling effect on the British population.

After capturing HMS Drake, Jones sent Ranger home. He resumed his war against England the following year aboard Bonhomme Richard

Jones’ ferocious battle against HMS Serapis sealed his reputation as a naval hero. Honored by French King Louis XVI, Jones sailed again to the United States. Appointed commander of the 74-gun USS America in 1782, he was back in Portsmouth and, legend says, to his rented room in the home of Sarah Purcell.

America was only half finished, Jones discovered, with little funding left to equip, provision, and man the ship. Launching America, he reported, was “the most lingering and disagreeable service” he faced during the Revolution. Fearing the huge ship of the line (182 feet long by 50 feet wide) might be sabotaged by the enemy during construction in Kittery, Jones mounted artillery on board and posted guards at his own expense. He also staged a huge public celebration with flags, dancing, and fireworks–but all for nothing. Congress chose to give America to the French in 1782. John Paul Jones left the United States without fanfare, but the return of his remains in 1905 captured headlines around the world.

New Hampshire Now Prints for Sale in the Museum Shop

Remember our great exhibit last fall of 46 New Hampshire photographers who traveled the Granite State from 2018-2020 taking pictures of daily life and majestic scenes? Now you can own one of these beautiful prints. Some are available online, but most are displayed in our newly-renovated theater! Come in and have a peek!

Plus, we still have a few copies of the catalogue left!


History. Arts. Culture

Welcome Center Opens April 1

Welcome Center Opens April 1


Starting April 1, the Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center will be open 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm.

Plus! On Friday, we’ll be staying open from 5pm until 8pm for our first Art ‘Round Town of the season! Kevin Trainer will be here to show us how to play his new Gundalow board game!

Dan Brown’s Wild Symphony at The Music Hall


This Saturday, April 2, the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra will perform Dan Brown’s Wild Symphony! Tickets on sale here. Stop by our table and get some details about our upcoming exhibition Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books featuring children’s illustrators from the Northeast while you’re there!


History. Arts. Culture.

Welcome Center Opens 4/1 and Imagine That! Opens 5/6

Welcome Center Opens 4/1 and Imagine That! Opens 5/6

Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books opens to the public on Friday, May 6, and will be open every day except July 4 until September 25. We will have story hours in the gallery, school- and camp-group tours, pop-up reading around town, evening lectures, weekend workshops with illustrators, not to mention partner events with the Portsmouth Public Library, G. Willikers!, The Music Hall, and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

If you’re interested in volunteering for a story hour or any of the other programs, we’d love your help! Sign up here!

Sustaining Members Get NARM Benefits

Did you know that one of the benefits of being a Sustaining Member at Portsmouth Historical Society is a membership in The North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM)?

NARM is a network of 1,190 art museums, galleries, historical museums and societies, botanical gardens, children’s museums, zoos, and more.

When you sign up with us as a Sustainer, you will receive a reciprocal membership benefit that can be used at participating organizations across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, El Salvador, and Mexico.

Sign up today to become a Sustainer!

Welcome Center & Museum Shop Open April 1!

Spring is in the air, and the Museum Shop will soon be open with lots of creative kits to help with a flowery spring glow!

Preview some of our grow treats online from Modern Sprout.

We’ll be open at 10am on April 1 and staying open until 8pm for our first Art ‘Round Town of the season. Kevin Trainer will be in to show everyone how to play the new Gundalow game!

A Brief History of the John Paul Jones House

Part 4: A Boy Named John Paul

A portrait of John Paul Jones from an early 20th century advertisement. (Author’s collection)

By J. Dennis Robinson

As the Purcell House was being built in New England in 1758, an 11-year-old boy named John Paul was growing up in Kirkcudbright, Scotland.

One of six children, the son of a gardener, he went to sea the following year as a cabin boy in the British merchant marine. John Paul served aboard a slave ship in 1766, a trade he reportedly despised, before becoming captain of his own trading vessel. After killing a mutinous crewman in self-defense, he fled to Virginia and changed his surname. John Paul Jones quickly distinguished himself as a brilliant naval tactician in the dawning years of the American Revolution.

Meanwhile, the death of her husband left Sarah Purcell in debt with a large family. On March 31, 1777, Sarah placed a notice in the NH Gazette. She firmly announced her intent to sue all those who owed her money “at the next May court” in order to pay her creditors. We know from the historic record that she would later operate two lodging sites in downtown Portsmouth. Legend claims she also rented a room to John Paul Jones before selling her home in 1783.

The dates match. Jones arrived in Portsmouth, NH in mid-July of 1777. Jones was appointed by the Continental Congress to fit out and man the sloop of war Ranger being completed on what is now Badger’s Island in Kittery, Maine. His journey later that year would carry John Paul Jones from obscurity into the history books and save the Purcell House from destruction.

(To be continued…)

Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books wouldn’t be possible without the support of our generous sponsors.

History. Arts. Culture.

Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books

Opening May 6, 2022

Portsmouth Historical Society has assembled a collection of extraordinary illustrations for children’s picture books by a “who’s who” of New England illustrators, from Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth, to Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings), Hans and Margret Rey (Curious George), and Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel); to contemporary artists Chris Van Dusen, Mo Willems, Tomie dePaola, and Ashley Bryan. In all, more than one hundred illustrations, including new reflections on diversity and inclusion, offer a springboard for children and adults to explore the imaginative world of picture books and reading together. Accompanying the exhibition are creative reading, craft and play areas, and an impressive “Journey Box” initiative that takes picture books, reading, and book-making to local schools, libraries, and underserved families.

Historically, Portsmouth sits at the heart of a region rich in children’s book illustration and publishing, which blossomed in Boston as early as the 1830s and now reaches to Portland, Maine, and beyond. By the turn of the 20th century, aided by modern printing methods, popular children’s books featured the bold compositions and vibrant colors of artists including Maxfield Parrish and N. C. Wyeth. Their work animated the pages of stories meant to capture a child’s imagination. Surpassing the moralistic tales of colonial New England, the picture books of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries are not only entertaining and educational, but have, as the exhibition title suggests, the power to ignite children’s imaginations, reaffirm the connections that come from reading aloud, and inspire art.

Resources for Diverse Books

Here are links to resources for parents and educators to find out more about diverse books:

Where are the people of color in children’s books? 

Walter Dean Myers, The New York Times, March 15, 2014

TED Talk by author-illustrator Grace Lin

on the impact of the books that appear on your child’s bookshelf, March 18, 2016

The Diverse Bookfinder

A collection of children’s picture books featuring Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC) published since 2002. The site includes a searchable database that makes it easy to locate and explore children’s picture books featuring BIPOC characters.

We Need Diverse Books 

Links to sources of diverse books.

Indigo Arts Alliance’s Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival

An annual summer children’s festival in Portland, Maine, celebrating the legacy of author-illustrator Ashley Bryan, with many online resources for educators and parents.

I’m Your Neighbor

Building stronger communities through children’s book resources for new immigrants.

Thank you to our generous sponsors


“Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books” Opens May 6

“Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books” Opens May 6

Coming May 6, Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books, a celebration of the extraordinary riches of book illustration in northern New England. Portsmouth Historical Society will bring world-class illustration to Portsmouth for the first time. Visitors will see beloved children’s classics―Make Way for Ducklings and Curious George―alongside the work of living artists shaping the field of children’s books today, such as Grace Lin and Mo Willems.

Stay tuned for more information, including our schedule of story hours, illustrator-led workshops for children and families, and pop-up reading events around town. Learn more about our summer-long series of programs presented in collaboration with Portsmouth Public Library, G. Willikers! Book and Toys, and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books. Show your support and let our community know that your business aligns with our mission of championing the history, arts and culture of the Portsmouth region!

For more information, or for a program packet, please contact Sue Ann Pearson, Director of Development, at

Laura Calhoun Steps in as Interim Executive Director

Laura Calhoun, former exhibitions and collections manager at the University of New Hampshire’s Museum of Art, has graciously agreed to step away as a trustee of the Portsmouth Historical Society and step into the role of interim executive director.

Having spent a few years between 2011 and 2014 on staff at Portsmouth Historical Society, Laura knows the institution well. She has been doing fantastic work at leading the team while the board of trustees’ search for the next executive director.

Both staff and board are thrilled to have Laura’s experience and positivity during this transitional time. Welcome!

Photo by Perry Smith

Become a Sustainer Today

Sustainers form a strong foundation for Portsmouth Historical Society by providing reliable support in the form of an on-going, monthly gift. They are steadfast in their commitment to make a difference in the work we do, and their generosity supports both current and future exhibitions, educational programs and institutional projects.

As a Portsmouth Historical Society Sustainer, your gift is charged automatically to your credit card each month making it easy to support a sustainable future for our organization.

And you can stop your payments anytime by simply calling the Development Office. We hope you will consider becoming a Sustainer this year!

For more information or questions please email Wendy in our Membership Office at

John Paul Jones House History

Part 2: Building a Mansion

By J. Dennis Robinson

Portsmouth was a key British colonial seaport when Capt. Gregory Purcell married Sarah Wentworth. Today, the rambling mansion of her uncle Benning Wentworth, the powerful New Hampshire governor, is also a museum located at the end of scenic tree-lined Little Harbor Road. Sarah would have been 17 or 18 when the couple built their three-and-a-half-story gambrel-roof home.

Gary Matsell, John Paul Jones House, 1997. Watercolor on paper. Prints available at the Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop!

Historians have long speculated that Hopestill Cheswell (also known as Hopestill March) was the housewright hired by the Purcells. (A housewright cut and sawed the timber into planks, then assembled the structure.) Ongoing research may soon determine whether this legend is valid. Hopestill’s father Richard is credited as the first African American to own land in New Hampshire, while his son Wentworth Cheswell was the state’s first Black elected official. Precious few houses of this design remain intact in Portsmouth. Most have been altered, destroyed, or sold off. Another Hopestill Cheswell structure on Pleasant Street, built for North Church pastor Samuel Langdon, was torn down in the 1950s and reconstructed at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.

Sarah gave birth to 11 or 12 children in this grand home at the busy intersection known as Haymarket Square. Eight of Sarah’s children were alive by the summer of 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was read aloud from the steps of the New Hampshire State House in the center of Market Square. Months later as the American Revolution raged on, word arrived that Capt. Gregory Purcell had died, probably while at sea, leaving his large family deeply in debt.

(To be continued….)

History. Arts. Culture.

Movers and Shakers and Painters

Movers and Shakers and Painters

Those of you who have followed us for a while know that the “off” season here is anything but a vacation! We’ve got so much going on, it’s hard to keep up! We’re getting ready for the spring exhibition, Imagine That! The Power of Picture Books by painting the Academy Building galleries, sprucing up the Shop and theater, and taking delivery of some gorgeous new display cases (we are museum geeks, after all, so new displays make us giddy).

Kate Shattuck is a one-woman painting powerhouse, Mark Kiernan is the fastest carpenter east of the Mississippi, SmallCorp has the best cases money can buy, and Arnold from Vital Delivery Services went above and beyond, helping us get the heavy cases exactly where we needed and was just the friendliest guy you could meet.

Stay tuned for more updates, including scintillating images of carpet shampoo machines, office furniture, and electronics recycling.

Seeking Executive Director

The Historical Society seeks an experienced, collaborative leader to lead this vibrant, community- focused, 100-year-old organization located in the heart of a lively historically- and culturally-oriented city. The new director should have experience and expertise with museum collections, exhibitions, and historic houses/buildings. They should also have a solid record of leading staff and boards, raising money, and actively participating in the community. For further information and closing date, visit

Annual Fund Ongoing Through April 1

It’s not too late to show your support to Portsmouth Historical Society with a gift to our Annual Fund. We will be running our appeal through April 1st, so you can still help us start off the new year with a show of support!

Thank you to everyone who has been generous with a gift to our Appeal.

History. Arts. Culture.

Time to Kick-off the Holiday Season!

Time to Kick-off the Holiday Season!

All We’re Missing is Some Snow!

It’s December, we’re halfway through Hanukkah, and Santa’s getting one last surf in before he has to get to work! You can see this fantastic holiday creation and many, many more at the 31st Annual Gingerbread House Competition & Exhibition, on display daily, from 10am to 5pm, through December 22.

Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth Kickoff Party
Friday, December 3 from 5:30 – 7:30

Join us tomorrow night from 5:30 to 7:30 to celebrate the season! We’ll be announcing the community judges’ winners for the Gingerbread House Contest and gearing up for Saturday’s parade and tree lighting!

We will be asking for all adults to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours. We will not be holding children under 18 to the same rules, but everyone must be masked. We will have masks for both adults and children. We will not be serving refreshments.

Masks or no, you can tell our community judges from Kennebunk Savings, Bangor Savings Bank, and City Hall all had a great time!

Shop Local

A wonderful opportunity to support local craftspeople and find unique Portsmouth and New Hampshire themed gifts!

Staff pick: It’s not too late to get a copy of the NH Now catalogue!

And, members: Don’t forget to register for the Holiday Sip & Shop on December 8!

New Hampshire Now: Capturing History

Portsmouth Historical Society presents a panel discussion exploring the New Hampshire Now exhibition with Art Historian Inez McDermott and photographers Dan Gingras, Michael Sterling, and Gary Samson. The panel will discuss the role of the documentary photography project throughout American history and its potential to make change as they make connections with the images and themes found in the exhibition.

Thursday, December 9 at 6:00pm
In-person at 10 Middle Street and via Zoom
FREE for members, $15 for non-members

History. Arts. Culture.

Members-only Holiday Sip & Shop

Members-only Holiday Sip & Shop

Portsmouth Historical Society Members are invited to an exclusive shopping event at our Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop on

Wednesday, December 8
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

We will have refreshments and snacks! Members get 10% off in the Shop, and we have a gift for everyone on your list.

RSVP for the Holiday Sip & Shop

History. Arts. Culture.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gingerbread House Contest & Exhibition Opens Black Friday at 10am!

The houses just get more impressive every year! We’ve got churches, ski slopes, Georgian homes, Victorian castles, a dog house, a stage, two sugar shacks, a sledding hill, the abode of a Disney princess, and even an Instagrammable plate of pasta!

Open, free to the public, 10am to 5pm, November 26 to December 23!

Vintage Christmas Kickoff
December 3, 5:30 to 8pm

We’ll be launching the holiday season with a few words of thanks and the awarding of our community judges’ ribbons!

Join us Friday, December 3rd from 5:30-8pm to celebrate the season!

For large, in-person gatherings, we are requiring adults to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours. We will not be requiring proof of vaccination for children. Everyone is required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

Downtown Scavenger Hunt

You can join in the fun and support local businesses! Pick up a stamp sheet at 10 Middle Street or at any of our retail partners, or download one here. Collect stamps from 15 of the 18 locations, and turn in your stamp sheet for a chance to win a prize!

To-Go Activity for Kids!

We’ve put together a brown-bag craft for kids, available starting Saturday mornings until we run out!

The kits include everything you’ll need to make a popsicle stick snowflake ornament! Just ask at the front desk.

History. Arts. Culture.

31st Annual Gingerbread House Contest & Exhibition

31st Annual Gingerbread House Contest & Exhibition

It’s that time again! Join us at Portsmouth Historical Society as we celebrate this sweet season with the 31st Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibition from November 26 through December 22 at the Portsmouth Historical Society’s Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center. Once again, everyone is getting a little sugar as we take the contestant creations to downtown shop windows!

🎵 These are a few of my 603 things 🎶

This year’s theme is our favorite New Hampshire things to go along with our photography exhibition, “NH Now: A Photographic Diary of Life in the Granite State.” So many of you took up the challenge! From your favorite landmarks to your favorite meal, the creative ways in which New Hampshire is represented in cookies and candy is just amazing!

Judges Awards

There were so many amazing entries this year that we do not envy the judges’ job at deciding who was the best. We are so grateful to these folks for their hard work!

Rachel Peter & Doug Smith from Kennebunk Savings
Chistine Whalen and Joey Martel from Walmart (with our very own Sue Ann Pearson on the left)
Mayor-Elect Deaglan McEachern
Wendy O’Sullivan from Bangor Savings Bank

Adult Category

All the winners in the adult category this year represented real places in New Hampshire in gingerbread format, and there was a TIE for first place!

Winter at Wood Island by Dudley Dudley, Betty Tamposi, & Ellen Garvey
Marjorie Thorpe’s Santa’s Elves Visit Castle in the Clouds
Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds

Castle in the Clouds

Built in 1913-14 by industrialist Thomas Plant and his wife Olive, Castle in the Clouds is an Arts and Crafts mansion in the Ossippee Mountains near Moultonborough, NH. Restored and cared for by the Castle Preservation Society, it is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open to the public.

Wood Island Life Saving Station

At the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, Maine, the Wood Island Life Saving Station has stood watch for 112 years. It housed brave “surfmen” that were part of the US Life Saving Service (a forerunner of the US Coast Guard) who would wait with small rowing boats to go out to help mariners in distress in terrible conditions year-round. The Wood Island Life Saving Station Association (WILSSA) formed in 2011 to oppose the station’s demolition and to raise all of the funds and find expertise to undertake a historically accurate restoration. 

Multi-Generational Category

The winner is the Johnson Family’s Reindeer Spa Day

The multi-generational category, with adults, teens, and children working together, is always full of imagination!

Honorable mention goes to Lindsey & Brooklyn Barnhorst for their Christmas Cape

Teen Category

So many teen participants this year!

Arianna Incollingo & Frank Krupp came back to Portsmouth Historical Society *three times* after dropping off their creation, called The Holiday Connection in order to perfect the finishing touches!
Natalie, Rachel, Amirah Little’s fanciful Searles Castle gets an honorable mention for all the details!

Searles Castle

Edward Francis Searles hired architect Henry Vaughan to design Searles Castle. It is built of cut granite, fieldstone, and dark red sandstone, most of which came from Searles’ own quarries in Pelham, New Hampshire. Completed in 1915, the castle consists of an entrance, a reception hall, a foyer, a dining room, a music room, a sun porch, a library, a grand stairway, a second-floor guest suite, a third-floor guest suite, a second-floor rotunda (or balcony), servants’ rooms, a kitchen, a butler’s pantry, butlers’ rooms, and a master bedroom suite which consists of a master bedroom, a sitting room, a bathroom, and a sunroom. Examples of the fine workmanship are found in the carved oak balcony and the marble fireplaces.

Youth Category

Ellie Ordman’s Story Land is our winner with three fantastic stories

The goal for our 12-and-under category is always to have fun, and these winners certainly had a good time at Story Land and on their summer vacation!

Abbey Menard’s Summer Vacation gets an honorable mention!

Business or Organization Category

Libby Giordano’s Holiday Castle for Make-A-Wish New Hampshire is the winner!
Honorable mention goes to Prescott Park’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown!

Professional Category

Bobby Menard’s Tangled takes the professional category – and would certainly take the height category if we were giving out ribbons for that!
Jackie van Berlo’s 100% vegan Birds of a Feather for the honorable mention in the professional category

Judges’ Best in Show

Unsurprisingly, we have a TIE for Best in Show as well! AND! you can get a raffle ticket for just $1 and take one of these houses home for a holiday centerpiece!

Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds
Jackie van Berlo’s Birds of a Feather

People’s Choice Awards

Your voice has been heard! Here are this year’s People’s Choice winners!

Most Attention to Detail

Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds

Most Whimsical

The Johnson Family’s Reindeer Spa Day

Most Creative Building Materials

Jackie van Berlo’s Birds of a Feather

Best Downtown

Melissa Kutsch’s Enchanted Holiday Cottage

People’s Best in Show

Positively stealing the show with FOUR ribbons is Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds, this year’s winner of BOTH Best in Show ribbons!


There are four fabulous houses up for grabs in our raffle! Get a ticket for $1 and you could take one of these houses home for a holiday centerpiece!

Downtown Scavenger Hunt

Pick up a stamp sheet at the Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center, at one of our downtown retail partner locations, or download here!

Visit each of the locations and get a stamp!

Collect 15 of 18 stamps and submit your sheet for a chance to win a prize from one of our partners!

Thank you to our Sweet Sponsors!

Walmart Portsmouth Supercenter

Walmart Newington


Bangor Savings Bank

Louis F. Clarizio, DDS PA

Only Three Days Left!

Only Three Days Left!

The last day to see Abstracting the Seacoast is this Thursday, November 18!

James Haller:
Presentation & Book Signing
Thursday, Nov. 18, 5:30 pm-7pm

Photo courtesy of James Haller & Truslow Photography

James Haller will be here Thursday evening to present his new book, At the End of Ceres Street, and to sign copies!

The book is available for pre-order now!

RSVP not required for this event, but please come prepared with a mask and your vaccination card or a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours.

Gingerbread Houses Arrive this Weekend!

Gingerbread is coming soon! We’ll be breaking out the decorations this weekend!

We’ll be accepting drop-offs of your fabulous frosted fabrications

Saturday & Sunday
November 20th & 21st
10am to 5pm

The exhibition will open to the public on Friday, November 26th!

We’ve got your gifts covered.

If you’re worried about where to get what you’ll need for the holidays, start downtown! The Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop has something for everybody on your list!

History. Arts. Culture.

John Paul Jones House open for Veterans Day!

John Paul Jones House open for Veterans Day!

Lunchtime Tour of the Gallery!

If you missed last Friday’s lunchtime tour, you have another chance! Stop by this

Friday, November 12, at noon

and hear the artists’ perspectives on their own work! 
This short, half-hour tour is FREE, and there’s no need to RSVP!

Tom Glover, Tug Gangway, Acrylic, oil.

There’s Still Time! 

A team from Bangor Savings Bank, one of our Gingerbread sponsors, got together to create their own entry!  Thanks, Bangor Savings.  

It’s not too late for you to enter the Annual Gingerbread Contest & Exhibition. Enter solo or with friends, family, or co-workers.

Register by November 15 here!

James Haller of the Blue Strawberry

Chef James Haller will be here to give a brief presentation and to sign his new book, At the End of Ceres Street: A Chef’s Salute to Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Thursday, November 18th, from 5:30 pm to 7pm. Come meet the man himself and get your copy of the book signed by the author!

Please note that masks are required for everyone at Portsmouth Historical Society. For large, in-person events such as these, we request all guests provide either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from the last 48 hours.

History. Arts. Culture.

An Enlightened Lunch Break

An Enlightened Lunch Break

“Abstracting the Seacoast” Artists’ Gallery Tour

Join us for a free gallery tour with the abstract painters of “Abstracting the Seacoast!” This Friday from 12:00 to 12:30, Dustan Knight and Peter Cady will be in the gallery to talk about their work and the creative process.

No reservations necessary, just stop on by!

Above: Peter Cady, Earlier, Oil on canvas. Left: Dustan Knight, Sunset—Ceres Street, Acrylic.

Art ‘Round Town Friday Evening!

Above: Michael Sterling, Peter Coren demonstrates woodworking techniques at the Boatshop at Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth. June 01, 2019. Below, Kenneth R. Goldman, US Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) campaigns in the New Hampshire presidential primary at South Church in Portsmouth. February 18, 2019

Join us for Art ‘Round Town this Friday until 8pm! You can have refreshments and snacks, get some early holiday shopping done, and meet some of the artists whose work is on display! This month we’ll have Michael Sterling and Kenneth R. Goldman, as well as our abstract painters, Barbara AdamsDustan KnightPeter CadyTom Glover, and Brian Chu!

Calling All Teens!

Are there teenagers in your life? Reach out and encourage their creativity! Enter the Teen/Teen Group category for the 31st Annual Gingerbread House and Exhibition. Here’s a shot of last year’s winning teen creation, Rustic Retreat, by Frank and Ariana!

Register by November 15 here!

History. Arts. Culture.

Fall is Here!

Fall is Here!

John Forti Book Signing

Join us on Wednesday, October 27 from 5:30 to 7pm to meet local legend and gardening master John Forti! He’ll be on hand to sign copies of his latest book, The Heirloom Gardner: Traditional Plants and Skills for the Modern World.

Please note that for large, indoor gatherings such as these, we are requiring visitors to be provide proof of COVID vaccination, or a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours upon entry. Masks are required indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Meet Sue Ann!

Portsmouth Historical Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Sue Ann Pearson as our new Director of Development. Pearson comes to PHS with a full resume of non-profit organizations as director in both fundraising and marketing. We look forward to a productive fall as the Advancement Office is busy with mailings and end of year appeals!

Join in on the Sweet Fun!

Sign up today to enter your own gingerbread creation in the 31st Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibition! Don’t know where to start? Come see our current exhibitions for some inspiration! This year’s theme is Our Favorite 603 Things!

Details and registration at

Painting at JPJ

The John Paul Jones House will be open to the public only one more day this year – Veterans Day! Keeping this local landmark looking it’s best is a lot of upkeep. This summer, thanks to funds received through the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance from the 1772 Foundation and hard work by the Portsmouth Painting Company, the house got a fresh coat of paint! Plus, Portsmouth Painting Company had a little fun… they did a remake of a classic paint ad from 1989 that featured JPJ. Check it out here!

History. Arts. Culture.

Get Your Copy of “Point of Graves” Signed by the Author!

Get Your Copy of “Point of Graves” Signed by the Author!

Thursday, October 7 at 5:30pm

J. Dennis Robinson will be here to sign copies of his new, thrilling murder mystery that takes place in Portsmouth (and features our very own John Paul Jones House!) Can’t make it? Get your copy at the online Museum Shop.

We’ll also be announcing the winners of this year’s Young Writer’s Contest and handing out the fabulous prizes!

John Paul Jones House Last Day of the Season: Monday, October 11

The leaves are turning, and it’s time to close up for the season! The John Paul Jones House will be closed to the public after Monday, October 11, with one exception. We will be open on the afternoon of Veterans Day to honor those who dedicate themselves to the service of their country.

Gingerbread is Coming Soon!

Fall is here, and that means we’re gearing up for the sweet extravaganza that is the annual Gingerbread House Contest & Exhibition!

This year’s theme is all about New Hampshire. What’s your favorite 603
thing? Of course, we’ll be doing the raffles, scavenger hunts, and awards, so start thinking about your entry today!

Details and more at

History. Arts. Culture.

Celebrating the Fall!

Celebrating the Fall!

So Many Local Artists Will Be Here for Exhibition Opening Reception!

Join us 5:30–8:00 pm on Friday, October 1, to open our fall exhibitions!

Kenneth R. Goldman. White Island Lighthouse, Isles of Shoals, Rye, at sunset on the summer solstice. June 21, 2019

We’ll have no fewer than SIX photographers in house, whose work is featured in the “New Hampshire Now” exhibition:

Dan Gingras
David Murray
Effie Malley
Ken Goldman
Peter E. Randall
Michael Sterling

Plus, our five local painters for “Abstracting the Seacoast”

Dustan Knight
Brian Chu
Barbara Adams
Peter Cady
Tom Glover

Tom Glover. Gear in the Port. Acrylic, charcoal, collage, 30 x 40 inches.

A brief note about health and safety:

For large events such as this, all guests are requested to wear masks, and we are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours upon entry.

We will be serving food and drink in a socially distant manner.

Portsmouth Advocates Awards for 2021

Portsmouth Advocates, a key program of the Portsmouth Historical Society, is joining in on awards season! Since 1989, Portsmouth Advocates has honored individuals and projects that enhance the city’s unique historic character and make Portsmouth a better place to live and work. This year we are delighted to have responsibly resumed our awards ceremony in-person at GoodWork’s Carey Cottage at Creek Farm, a 2020 Advocates award recipient.

Portsmouth Advocates is pleased to announce the following award winners: For “Restoring the Integrity of a Resource,” Stephen Foster and the Tobias Lear House, 49 Hunking Street. For the “Continued and Sensitive Maintenance of a Historic Property,” South Church at 292 State Street, Harry Furman and Kathleen Straube for the Ebenezer Hanes House at 557 State Street, Keith and Christina Wilkinson at 62 Winter Street. The recipient of the Arthur J. Gerrier Memorial Award, given to an individual of long demonstrated commitment to preserving and enhancing the unique historical character of this city, is Vincent Lombardi. The John Grossman Memorial Award, which recognizes an individual who makes a reality of an organization’s mission by bridging the theoretical and practical, is Barbara McLean Ward.

We’ll be highlighting each of the winners in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

October is the Last Month for Walking Tours This Year!

October is the last month to get a walking tour before it get’s too cold! Book your tickets today. Portsmouth is beautiful in the fall!

If you can’t make one of our regularly scheduled tours, book a private tour! Just contact walking tour manager Robin Lurie-Meyerkopf!

History. Arts. Culture.

Abstracting the Seacoast

Abstracting the Seacoast

October 1 through November 18

Open daily, 10am to 5pm

Free to all!

In five highly individual styles, “Abstracting the Seacoast” evokes the smell of the salt marsh, the call of seagulls, and the crash of the waves along the coast. It brings to mind the bustle of the docks loading and unloading, while the ubiquitous Moran tugboats chug down the river. Historic Portsmouth, with its venerable red brick buildings, narrow side alleys, and bright, busy Market Square dissolves into the softer natural world of silver pocket beaches and deep pine and birch woods. All these impressions have been incorporated into this inspiring exhibition by these artists.

Barbara Adams

Barbara Stevens Adams began her art involvement while practicing as a psychotherapist in New Haven, Connecticut. Following her move to New Hampshire in 1990 she continued to pursue her art explorations which now have taker her to her current passion with oils and soft pastels. Barbara is a founding member and the past president of the Pastel Society of New Hampshire, a juried member of the New Hampshire Art Association, a Signature Member of the Pastel Painters of Maine, and a member of Kittery Art Association, Seacoast Art Association, and Newburyport Art Association. the focus of her art is frequently themes from her en plein air painting excursions, her abstract exploration, and her enjoyment of the many moods of the New England coast. Although no longer practicing in her profession as a psychotherapist, Barbara has continued to be an active supporter of community agencies. She supports, through her art, NH Public Television, Womenaid of Greater Portsmouth, Portsmouth Music and Art, and Seacoast Pathways.

Barbara Stevens Adams Fine Art

Dunstan Knight

Dustan Knight is a working artist living in New Castle, a small island near Portsmouth, NH. She earned her MFA at Pratt Institute in NYC during the eighties, and an MA in Art History from Boston University. After years of teaching college and graduate art classes, she has returned full-time to her studio. As a mature artist, Dustan is able to step away from the politics of the art world and delve deeply into what matters most to her. Her art practice has exploded into powerful, abstracted images that celebrate the physicality of her materials and refer to her personal experiences in her PLACE.

Dustan Knight Fine Artist


Brian Chu

After immigrating to the US in 1981, Brian Chu studied painting and earned an MFA in painting from Queens College, City University in New York City. The art career he started in New York expanded to exhibitions and teaching positions in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and New Hampshire. Since 2000, Brian has been a professor of art at the University of New Hampshire. He has had exhibitions in New York City, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and throughout New England.

Recent exhibitions of his work were at:
George Marshall Store Gallery, York, ME
Oxbow Gallery, Northampton, MA
Merrimack College, MA
University of New Hampshire Art Museum

Brian Chu – Paintings and Drawings

Peter Cady

Peter Cady grew up on the coast of New Hampshire. His study of painting began as a boy observing painters with their easels overlooking the ocean. He studied civil engineering but found he was drawn to things artistic and to working with his hands. After college, he worked in construction and learned fine woodworking. He still lives in the timber framed house he built from his trees. His furniture making started to incorporate color and a variety of materials, evolving into sculpture. After a second career of teaching science to middle school students, he returned to the arts. He ahs gotten to know and learn from many fine painters like the ones in this group.

Peter Cady


Tom Glover

Tom Glover was born in Keene, NH. He graduated with a BFA degree in painting at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and worked closely with the Maine painter John Laurent up until Laurent’s death in 2005. He studied painting restoration with the conservator Anthony Moore in York, Maine. For several years he lectured at the University of Connecticut to science education graduate students on “The Landscape, Mythology, and the Artist.” He has also taught painting at the UNH Department of Continuing Education, and at workshops on the Isles of Shoals. Currently, he teaches painting at Sanctuary Arts in Eliot, Maine.

Tom Glover

Tom Glover