It’s that time again! Join us at Portsmouth Historical Society as we celebrate this sweet season with the 31st Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibition from November 26 through December 22 at the Portsmouth Historical Society’s Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center. Once again, everyone is getting a little sugar as we take the contestant creations to downtown shop windows!

🎵 These are a few of my 603 things 🎶

This year’s theme is our favorite New Hampshire things to go along with our photography exhibition, “NH Now: A Photographic Diary of Life in the Granite State.” So many of you took up the challenge! From your favorite landmarks to your favorite meal, the creative ways in which New Hampshire is represented in cookies and candy is just amazing!

Judges Awards

There were so many amazing entries this year that we do not envy the judges’ job at deciding who was the best. We are so grateful to these folks for their hard work!

Rachel Peter & Doug Smith from Kennebunk Savings
Chistine Whalen and Joey Martel from Walmart (with our very own Sue Ann Pearson on the left)
Mayor-Elect Deaglan McEachern
Wendy O’Sullivan from Bangor Savings Bank

Adult Category

All the winners in the adult category this year represented real places in New Hampshire in gingerbread format, and there was a TIE for first place!

Winter at Wood Island by Dudley Dudley, Betty Tamposi, & Ellen Garvey
Marjorie Thorpe’s Santa’s Elves Visit Castle in the Clouds
Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds

Castle in the Clouds

Built in 1913-14 by industrialist Thomas Plant and his wife Olive, Castle in the Clouds is an Arts and Crafts mansion in the Ossippee Mountains near Moultonborough, NH. Restored and cared for by the Castle Preservation Society, it is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open to the public.

Wood Island Life Saving Station

At the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, Maine, the Wood Island Life Saving Station has stood watch for 112 years. It housed brave “surfmen” that were part of the US Life Saving Service (a forerunner of the US Coast Guard) who would wait with small rowing boats to go out to help mariners in distress in terrible conditions year-round. The Wood Island Life Saving Station Association (WILSSA) formed in 2011 to oppose the station’s demolition and to raise all of the funds and find expertise to undertake a historically accurate restoration. 

Multi-Generational Category

The winner is the Johnson Family’s Reindeer Spa Day

The multi-generational category, with adults, teens, and children working together, is always full of imagination!

Honorable mention goes to Lindsey & Brooklyn Barnhorst for their Christmas Cape

Teen Category

So many teen participants this year!

Arianna Incollingo & Frank Krupp came back to Portsmouth Historical Society *three times* after dropping off their creation, called The Holiday Connection in order to perfect the finishing touches!
Natalie, Rachel, Amirah Little’s fanciful Searles Castle gets an honorable mention for all the details!

Searles Castle

Edward Francis Searles hired architect Henry Vaughan to design Searles Castle. It is built of cut granite, fieldstone, and dark red sandstone, most of which came from Searles’ own quarries in Pelham, New Hampshire. Completed in 1915, the castle consists of an entrance, a reception hall, a foyer, a dining room, a music room, a sun porch, a library, a grand stairway, a second-floor guest suite, a third-floor guest suite, a second-floor rotunda (or balcony), servants’ rooms, a kitchen, a butler’s pantry, butlers’ rooms, and a master bedroom suite which consists of a master bedroom, a sitting room, a bathroom, and a sunroom. Examples of the fine workmanship are found in the carved oak balcony and the marble fireplaces.

Youth Category

Ellie Ordman’s Story Land is our winner with three fantastic stories

The goal for our 12-and-under category is always to have fun, and these winners certainly had a good time at Story Land and on their summer vacation!

Abbey Menard’s Summer Vacation gets an honorable mention!

Business or Organization Category

Libby Giordano’s Holiday Castle for Make-A-Wish New Hampshire is the winner!
Honorable mention goes to Prescott Park’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown!

Professional Category

Bobby Menard’s Tangled takes the professional category – and would certainly take the height category if we were giving out ribbons for that!
Jackie van Berlo’s 100% vegan Birds of a Feather for the honorable mention in the professional category

Judges’ Best in Show

Unsurprisingly, we have a TIE for Best in Show as well! AND! you can get a raffle ticket for just $1 and take one of these houses home for a holiday centerpiece!

Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds
Jackie van Berlo’s Birds of a Feather

People’s Choice Awards

Your voice has been heard! Here are this year’s People’s Choice winners!

Most Attention to Detail

Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds

Most Whimsical

The Johnson Family’s Reindeer Spa Day

Most Creative Building Materials

Jackie van Berlo’s Birds of a Feather

Best Downtown

Melissa Kutsch’s Enchanted Holiday Cottage

People’s Best in Show

Positively stealing the show with FOUR ribbons is Lindsay Carroll’s Castle in the Clouds, this year’s winner of BOTH Best in Show ribbons!


There are four fabulous houses up for grabs in our raffle! Get a ticket for $1 and you could take one of these houses home for a holiday centerpiece!

Downtown Scavenger Hunt

Pick up a stamp sheet at the Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center, at one of our downtown retail partner locations, or download here!

Visit each of the locations and get a stamp!

Collect 15 of 18 stamps and submit your sheet for a chance to win a prize from one of our partners!

Thank you to our Sweet Sponsors!

Walmart Portsmouth Supercenter

Walmart Newington


Bangor Savings Bank

Louis F. Clarizio, DDS PA