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…)

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