29th Annual Gingerbread House Contest & Exhibition Call for Entries

2018 Music Hall Gingerbread

Portsmouth Historical Society is pleased to announce another year of a sweet local tradition. Gather your family, friends and/or co-workers together and craft your own beautiful creation! All levels welcome. Homemade gingerbread creations will be on display daily for the public throughout December at Discover Portsmouth.

Professional Division Deadline to Register: Monday, November 1, 2019

Portsmouth Historical Society/Discover Portsmouth announces the introduction of a new “Professional Division” for 2019. Entries will be on display daily at Discover Portsmouth with the Professional Division scheduled to open a week early to kick off the exhibit. Due to space constraints, a limited number of entries in the Professional Division will be accepted.
The Professional Division will run Friday, November 29, – December 22, 2019

Community Division Deadline to Register: Saturday, November 25, 2019

This year, Community Division categories include Adult, Multi-generation (formerly “Family”), Teen, Youth, and Business/Nonprofit. Gather your family, friends, and/or co-workers together and craft your own beautiful creation!
The Community Division exhibition will open Friday, Dec. 6 from 9:30 am-8 pm, and run through December 22, from 9:30-5 pm daily. Some specially selected entries will be offered in a raffle.

Please read the Contest Rules before you register.





The 29th Annual Gingerbread House Contest is a feature of Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth, the city-wide, month-long celebration anchored by The Music Hall and Strawbery Banke Museum.

Created by local businesses, artists, families and kids, the gingerbread houses will be nestled into a winter wonderland in the first floor gallery surrounded by large format photographs: David J. Murray’s images of Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth and photographs of trains in New Hampshire winters by Andy Dolph. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Judges’ winning selections will be announced at the December 6th Kickoff Party. Visitors to the exhibit can vote for the People’s Choice Awards in five categories: “Best in Show,” “Most Creative Building Materials,” “Most Attention to Detail,” “Most Whimsical” and “Best Professional.”

Come see these magical creations and find holiday gifts in the Museum Shop! According to Robin Albert, Welcome Center Coordinator, who is overseeing the exhibit, “We are gearing up for what has become a wonderful tradition. Both past participants and newcomers are encouraged to enter, so get your family and friends and co-workers together and craft your own beautiful creation!”

Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth Kickoff

Friday, December 6, 2019, 5-8pm
The exhibition will open Friday, December 6, from 5-8pm, and run through December 22, from 9:30-5 pm daily. The exhibition will also be open until 6pm on Friday, December 13 and Friday, December 20.

Take a house home!

Some of our most beautiful entries will be raffled off and available to the winners to take home for the holidays. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit Portsmouth Historical Society.

Free Family Programs

Dates and Programs Coming Soon!

Thank you to our event sponsors

Devine Millimet    

John Paul Jones House 2018 Media

Press Releases 2018

2018 Exhibition-Overlooked and Undervalued: Three Hundred Years of Women’s Art from the Seacoast (PDF)
John Paul Jones Birthday July 8, 2018 (PDF)

Overlooked and Undervalued Exhibition Images
John Paul Jones House Images



One stop shopping this Father’s Day at Discover Portsmouth

Just in time for Father’s Day!

Your Dad called and he really doesn’t want another tie for Father’s Day. So instead bring Dad to Discover Portsmouth and he’ll receive free admission with any paid ticket to the Bold & Brash exhibit PLUS 10% off American Eagle: The Bold Art and Brash Life of John Haley Bellamy the new book by exhibit curator James A. Craig.

Know a Dad who loves history? Get him the gift that will keep on giving year ‘round: a membership to Portsmouth Historical Society. In addition to free admission to the John Paul Jones House, as well as discounted admission to programs, lectures and tours, you will receive a complimentary copy of Patriots Reward, by Steven Clarkson; a great gift by itself made even better! ClarksonCover72-sm

The Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop is open daily 10AM-5PM

Lecture Series to Honor Former Nashua Resident, Elinor Williams Hooker

ElinorElinor W. Hooker (July 10, 1933 -January 27, 2012), a long time New Hampshire resident and activist, was born July 10, 1933 in Pittsburgh, PA, daughter of the late Dr. Ulysses Williams and Louise G. Williams. The family’s Pittsburgh home was near Wylie Avenue an active community of black businesses, jazz music and churches, a location that would shape her lifelong interest in multicultural activities.

Mrs. Hooker was a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University where she majored in French and English. She taught English in Junior and Senior High Schools in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, Brockton and Quincy, MA and Concord, NH and served as a tutor in the English as a Second Language Program at Nashua’s Pennichuck Junior High.

As a community activist, she volunteered with several groups including the Nashua Multicultural Committee and served as scholarship chairperson and assistant treasurer for the New Hampshire Outreach for Black Unity. During her tenure she chaired art exhibits by black artists and black performing artists. Elinor was a strong advocate of cultural diversity and Teaching Tolerance in schools base on the programs developed by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Elinor was the wife of Thomas L. Hooker, who served from 1966 to 1974 as Director of the New Hampshire Division of Welfare. Shortly after moving to New Hampshire in 1966, Elinor and husband Tom became aware of Valerie Cunningham’s research on the history of blacks in New Hampshire. Both became supporters of PBHT and were interested in its growth.

The votes are in!!!! 2013 Gingerbread House Contest

And the winners are….!

The 2013 Gingerbread House contest was a huge success! There were over 48 entries this year and many tough decisions for the all-star team of judges. The contest featured four catagories: Youth, Family, Adult and Business/Nonprofit. This year also featured the first annual People’s Choice Award. The winners will enjoy amazing prizes provided by Vida Cantina, Diversions Puzzles & Games and the Music Hall. Discover Portsmouth has extended hours for viewing this weekend from 10-8PM. There is still time to get one last look!

The Winners Are:

Best Family

Rebecca and Payson Dunn

Best Adult

The Enchanted Caravan by Mary Dissette

Best Business

Gilley’s by TMS Architects

Best Youth

Stocking-End Hobbit Hole by Emma Cross

People’s Choice Award

Victorian Gingerbread by Michelle Maple

[Read more…]

New Hampshire Charitable Foundation awards 2013 Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant


Discover Portsmouth
Sept 18-Nov 30
Academy Balcony Gallery
Open daily 10-5PM

Justin Kirchoff, a photographer in Eliot, Maine, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant. The grant is awarded annually by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

The Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant provides a $25,000 grant to an individual visual artist to promote his or her artistic growth. Since the program began in 2002, over $350,000 has been awarded to Seacoast-area artists.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Foundation is able to award one of the country’s largest unrestricted grants to an individual artist so they can focus on what they do best, creating brilliant works of art for the community to enjoy,” said Richard Ober, president of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. [Read more…]

Mother’s Day Event at the John Paul Jones House

Children’s Day Clothing: The Collection of the Portsmouth Historical Society

May 11-12

Gallery Talks begin at 11AM & 2PM

Join Portsmouth Historical Society curator Sandra Rux as she discusses the evolution of children’s clothing and 19th century stories of children in Portsmouth.

Free for members/ $6 non-members