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!
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
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.
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.
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!