Strawbery Banke features buildings from 17th-19th centuries

Strawbery Banke Museum entrance in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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.

Oldest house in Strawbery Banke MuseumSome of the houses pen to the public have been furnished. Make sure to check in at the visitor center to learn about the day’s demonstrations. During our visit, we learned about:

  • 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.

Visit the Strawbery Banke Museum website. or read a timeline of key dates in the museum’s history.

Table chairs and gun in Pitt Tavern, Strawbery Banke Museum
The Pitt Tavern included many rooms where the customers could socialize, buy a hot meal, drink an adult beverage, play cards or rent a place to sleep.
Wooden barrels in store at Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Some residents operated small stores in their houses to help pay bills.
Lowd House in Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth
Lowd House’s rectangular shape, low-pitched hip roof, and front doorway with a fanlight and pilasters are characteristics of the Federal style of architecture in Portsmouth.
Kitchen with reflective pewterware
The pewterware was arranged to reflect light in the kitchen/dining area.
Bedroom with bath tub and fireplace, Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth
Imagine using that small pan as your bath tub. No long soaks for the residents of this house.
Marden-Abbott House store and flag, Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth
Walter and Bertha Abbott opened their store in 1919. After Walter’s death in 1938, Bertha continued to operate it until 1950.
Vintage goods in the Marden-Abbot House & Store, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Vintage goods in the Marden-Abbot House & Store.
Sitting room with tea cups in Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth
Residents pushed their furniture to the sides of the living room to help show off how spacious it was.
Layers of wallpaper and plaster around fireplace, Strawbery Banke Museum
This wall shows how residents layered plaster and wallpaper over original woodwork as styles changed over the years.
Sign about segmented sleep at Strawbery Banke Museum
I was surprised to learn about segmented sleep.

About Kristine K. Stevens

Book Cover200Kristine is the author of "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It Isn't Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around the World." This nonfiction book tells the story of how she sold her house, quit her job and traveled around the world.

Kirkus Book Review: "... Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator ... plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read... An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places."


Next travel book to spotlight Iceland

25817249396_f6c787ef9f_z Kristine broke free from a desk job once again, and this time ended up volunteering in the far corners of Iceland!

Details about the release of this book will be posted on Facebook.