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.