Strawbery Banke: A Seaport Museum 400 Years in the Making

Overview

Strawbery Banke Museum is a rich core sample of an ever-changing America. The ten-acre museum campus, New Hampshire’s earliest neighborhood, began as a British plantation on a tidal inlet. Abandoned by its founders in 1635, the settlement “accidentally” named Strawberry Bank survived to become New Hampshire’s only seaport. A century later the bustling Portsmouth waterfront was home to royal governors, tall ships, skilled artisans, and wealthy merchants. When the maritime economy crashed and the city burned in the...

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Overview

Strawbery Banke Museum is a rich core sample of an ever-changing America. The ten-acre museum campus, New Hampshire’s earliest neighborhood, began as a British plantation on a tidal inlet. Abandoned by its founders in 1635, the settlement “accidentally” named Strawberry Bank survived to become New Hampshire’s only seaport. A century later the bustling Portsmouth waterfront was home to royal governors, tall ships, skilled artisans, and wealthy merchants. When the maritime economy crashed and the city burned in the nineteenth century, the “Puddle Dock” neighborhood drew waves of immigrant families to its ancient low-rent buildings. Then in the twentieth century, fearful of urban “blight,” a federal redevelopment project went off here like a neutron bomb. The population and the junkyards disappeared, but a grassroots preservation movement saved many historic buildings from the bulldozers of progress.

Rich with pictures and painstakingly researched, this work is actually two books in one.
The first tracks 400 years of history along the Piscataqua River with dramatic tales that will surprise even New Hampshire natives—and reads like a thrilling adventure novel. The story then goes behind the scenes to the controversial founding of Strawbery Banke Museum in 1958. Tapping into private letters, unpublished records and personal interviews, the author explores the politics of preservation in a small blue-collar city. Always lively, this highly readable history tracks modern Portsmouth from a gritty working seaport to a cultural heritage destination, assessing what is gained and what is lost along the way.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Strawbery Banke: A Seaport Museum 400 Years in the Making] is really two books in one, for the volume covers both the four-hundred-year history of the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire's only major seaport, and the more recent fifty-year history of Strawbery Banke, Inc (now Strawbery Banke Museum) . . . Robinson has done a superb job telling this tale, weaving together the two stories in an almost seamless pattern."—Historical New Hampshire

"[T]he dramatic story of New Hampshire's oldest neighborhood and only seaport. In 400 pages and over 300 photos and illustrations, Robinson's enthralling narrative takes you back to the neighborhood's beginnings as a British plantation and its bustling Colonial heyday up through its near destruction and controversial founding as a museum fifty years ago."—Accent

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780960389629
  • Publisher: Strawbery Banke Museum & Peter E. Randall Publisher
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,396,245
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

J. DENNIS ROBINSON is editor and owner of the popular regional web site SeacoastNH.com. An educator, audio and video producer, lecturer, and columnist, Robinson has published over a thousand articles on local history and culture. His most recent books Wentworth by the Sea: The Life and Times of a Grand Hotel. He lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with his wife.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Sponsors     xi
Foreword     xiii
Introduction     xvii
Opening Ceremonies (1965)     1
Left Behind: The Orphaned Plantation (1600-1635)     17
Portsmouth at Rivermouth (1635-1700)     41
On the Waterfront (The 1700s)     65
The Birth of Puddle Dock (The 1800s)     87
Red Lights and White Gloves (1900-1935)     119
The Maritime Village Idea (1935-1955)     157
Three Strong Voices (1955-1958)     193
Strawbery Banke Inc. (1958-1965)     217
Shifting Foundations (1965-1975)     253
Portsmouth Reborn (1975-1985)     297
Back to the Future (1985-2008)     327
Photo Credit Abbreviations     346
Selected Bibliography     347
Endnotes     355
Index     381
About the Author and Photographers     393
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