Who needs a Star Trek holodeck when you can visit centuries of living within Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This 10-acre museum features more than 40 buildings built between the 17th and 19th centuries.
The settlement of Strawbery Banke (an area named for the local wild strawberries) began about 1630. Buildings clustered around Puddle Dock, an 800-foot-long tidal inlet off the Piscataqua River. The area existed as a neighborhood until the late 1950s, when it was saved from urban renewel demolition by historic preservationists and turned into a museum.
NOTE: Puddle Dock waterway was filled in around 1900, but the museum is now raising funds to use the space as an ice rink during the winter.
- sticking your arm in the doorless brick oven off the side of the hearth to determine how hot it was by how many seconds you could hold it in the heat.
- the history of sugar, which was available as paper-wrapped cones called sugarloaves, then cubes, and then granulated.
- a man’s three linen napkins that were almost as valuable as his land.
- the lack of legal status for women, which drove them into dire – often homeless straights – when their husbands died.
We particularly the enjoyed chatting with the Ukrainian housewife who showed off her indoor plumbing next to her circa-1919 kitchen. The thought of walking outside to use an outdoor privy when the winter temperatures were below freezing made me cringe.
There are also five formal exhibits on archaeology, architecture, woodworking tools and skills, post-and-beam construction, and amusements and entertainment.