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

July 2 Free Admission & Open until 8pm

July 2 Free Admission & Open until 8pm

Retro Roadtripper Raffle!

Tomorrow evening only!

Get 10% off one of our fun Portsmouth stemless wine glasses at Art ‘Round Town tomorrow between 5 and 8pm – and use it on the spot for a free sip of vino

Our featured artist this month for Art ‘Round Town is Josh Hrehovcik! He’ll be in the Museum Shop from 5 to 8pm to talk about his books and photography. PLUS, he’s graciously offered two of his beautiful photographs for us to raffle off! Tickets are only $3, and you can get them in store or online!

John Paul Jones Birthday Party!

Sunday, July 11
we’ll be celebrating the
274th birthday of 
John Paul Jones

Music by
Great Bay Sailor

Lawn Games
for kids and adults alike

at 1pm

Free admission
to the John Paul Jones House from 11am to 5pm

Historic Preservation Walking Tour

Join Portsmouth expert Richard M. Candee for a walking tour exploring industrial Portsmouth. This is the ONLY opportunity this summer to see this tour!

July 8 at 2:30 pm

Can’t make it? You can always schedule a private tour. Email Robin Lurie-Meyerkopf for details!

Closed July 4

We will be closed to the public this Sunday, July 4, to celebrate Independence Day with our families. We will, however, be open to the public on Monday, July 5.

Happy Fourth!

History. Arts. Culture.

Free Admission Tomorrow

Free Admission Tomorrow

Meet the Artists at Art ‘Round Town

Tomorrow is the first Friday in May, and Portsmouth Historical Society is


PLUS! We’re open until 8pm for Art ‘Round Town.

Meet the Artists!

Judy Schubert and Don Gorvett will here to meet and greet! Stop by between 5 and 8 pm.

Thank You to All Mothers!

This Sunday is Mother’s Day! Bring your mom to Portsmouth Historical Society, and she gets in free!

May is Membership Month

Marvelous May is our Merry Membership Month!
This month only:

Join or renew for a chance to win a PRIVATE walking tour for 8!

Upgrade or become a sustaining member and be entered in a raffle for a $100 gift certificate to the Museum Shop!

Members get great benefits, like free admission, discounted walking tour tickets, exclusive access to events, and more!

Be a History Hero and Join Today

May 9th is your only chance this month for
“Gay” Old Times: Stories of Portsmouth’s LGBTQ+ Community

This special walking tour on LGBTQ+ history is offered only once a month. Led by guide Tom Kaufhold, learn the hidden history behind the rise of pride in Portsmouth! Book Here!

We 💗 Black History

Does Someone Need a Hug?

Send an Obama Hug for Valentine’s Day AND Black History Month!

The Seacoast African American Cultural Center is teaming up with the Historical Society to offer these funny and heartwarming cards, featuring the friendly grin of our huggiest-ever president!

This unique and oversized card (those hands are nearly life-sized!) is sure to brighten someone’s day. We can add a message and mail this collectible card directly to your valentine!

Available at our online shop!

Rock Rest Rocking Chair

Rocking chair, America, ca. 1900-1920. Retailed by Margeson Brothers, Portsmouth. Oak, replaced leather seat; H. 42 1/4 in., W. 27 1/4 in., D. 33 in.
Portsmouth Historical Society; Gift of Bob Shouse, 2014

This chair was used at Rock Rest in Kittery Point, Maine, in operation from 1946 to 1977 as a summer retreat by Hazel and Clayton Sinclair for an African American clientele, providing a safe and congenial haven for Black travelers. Through the efforts of historian Valerie Cunningham and the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, the Rock Rest archives are now at UNH, and the site is featured in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Writing While Black: The Afrofuturistic Writer

This Sunday, the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is hosting another online edition of the Elinor Williams Hooker Tea Talks. Featuring some big names in contemporary fiction, “Writing While Black: The Afrofuturistic Writer” will explore Black writers and characters in a genre where they have not been expected to excel.

Registration in advance is necessary, so sign up now!

Illustration by Freddy Carrasco

There may be snow in the forecast, but spring is coming soon! We’ll be open again before you know it, with some incredible works of art on the walls!

Keep warm with your Valentine and stay tuned!

History. Arts. Culture.

Our Museum Shop is Now Online!

Our Museum Shop is Now Online!

“Threads” Talk Tonight!

Above: The center medallion of the “Washington” coverlet, on display in the “Threads” exhibition. Probably made in Bolton, England, ca. 1780; cotton. Portsmouth Historical Society; Gift of Mrs. John F. Tyler (2005.033).

“Coverlets & Counterpanes of New Hampshire: Bedcovers for a New Nation”

Tonight’s talk will focus on that other kind of bedcover popular in New England in the early 19th century, the coverlet. Learn about the luxury furnishings displayed to impress visiting VIPs like George Washington and the marquis de Lafayette, and the artisanal industry of their creation, here in New Hampshire.

Left: Tonight’s speaker, Jennifer Swope, assistant curator of Textile and Fashion Arts at the MFA, Boston.

Jubilee Auction of Local Art

The local artists participating in our online auction have submitted some phenomenal works to the cause! Proceeds from each item auctioned will be split equally between Portsmouth Historical Society and the artist, thus supporting arts in the Seacoast two ways!

Jubilee ticket holders will have exclusive access to our online party, receive a gourmet goodie-bag of snacks for the show, get a sneak preview of the art to be auctioned, and see the “Threads” community quilt unveiled!

Museum Shop Now Has Online Store!

It is with great pleasure that we announce the debut of our online Discover Portsmouth Museum Shop!

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of shop manager Beth Gross-Santos, we now have an online retail establishment with a select number of items available for purchase.

Members can still receive their 10% discount! Keep an eye out for a special email with your discount code!

Anything Planned for the Weekend?

You’ll be surprised what you don’t know about Portsmouth! Our five-star rated walking tours are a great way to get outdoors! Check them out here!