Monday, October 1, 2012

A Trip Back In Time

Since last Thursday was our 15th anniversary,we wanted to do something fun and decided to explore a bit.I am a history nut,and have been wanting to check out Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth. Rick,having grown up in Portsmouth,has been there a couple of times with school field trips. I ,however,never made it. It's a wonderful snapshot of NH history,and the old homes that I love so much.If I could,I would live in an old Colonial or Federalist style home and renovate it. It must be my New England roots :)

A brief bit of history first. Strawberry Banke was the first settlement in what is now Portsmouth ,NH,and is the oldest neighborhood in NH.It was established in 1630,when the English settlers landed on it's banks,taking notice of the abundance of wild strawberries,which inspired the name. A section of Strawberry Banke would be called Puddle Dock,which was on a tidal inlet that rose up to 14 ft during high tide. Here folks had docks right outside their homes.In 1653,the residents of Strawberry Banke petitioned for their name to be Portsmouth. In the 1800's,the Puddle Dock area became home to a red light district,with many brothels until the Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard helped to have these "homes of ill repute" closed in 1912. In the early 1900's,the tidal inlet was filled with tons of dirt-there are still docks buried underneath all the fill. It became a family neighborhood yet again,until the late 1940's. Homes had fallen into states of disrepair,and  there were piles and piles of scrap metal everywhere left over from the scrap metal drives in WWII. In the 1950's,the area was doomed to be condemned but a group of citizens fought to save it. When urban renewal in the 1960's destroyed many old,historic homes to make way for new housing,this area was not affected. It was determined that the homes  would be renovated,and various other homes that were in threat of demolition would be moved to the area. Homes would represent architecture from the late 1600's to the early 1800's. It eventually became a living museum,with tours,and various events.

Rick and I saw a brief video about the history of Strawberry Banke,and we were given a map of the homes with info about each home.

The first house was the Goodwin Mansion. The Goodwin Mansion had been moved to it's current location from Islington St in 1963 to save it from demolition.It was the home to Governor Ichabod Goodwin and his wife, Sarah Parker Rice Goodwin. He was Governor during the Civil War. The home was built in 1811.

It took several years to clean up the area,level it out,and remake the garden. They used the diaries and garden plots from the estate of Mrs Goodwin to recreate it. In the photo below,you can see the water fountain. To the right is a private residence that was once the home of Daniel Webster when he began his law career.

Another view of the garden,this time you can see the greenhouse to the left and Goodwin Mansion on the right. The home had to be split into four pieces and moved veeeeerrrrrryy slowly to it current spot.

                                                                     Another garden shot
The parlor area. The dress on the left was Mrs Goodwin's wedding dress. It's absolutely gorgeous. Samples of clothing are dispensed throughout the homes on the property. Some of them belonged to the previous owners,some were replicas,and some were just to show different styles. The dress to the right was designed by a winner of Project Runway.

                                                                      A part of the kitchen

Governor Goodwin's bedroom.  Apparently they followed Queen Victoria's advice that the secret to a happy  marriage was separate bedrooms! 

Mrs.Goodwin's bedroom. The dress on the left was hers. Isn't it lovely? The night time looking garment was done by a runner up of Project Runway.

                                        This chandelier over the spiral stairway was lovely.

                      The stairway was very graceful,but I admit I got dizzy going down it!

Most of the houses are clustered in one area. The dirt path  and grassy area that is in front of the red house was were the tidal inlet was .You would never guess that boats use  to sail right up to the homes and dock.

This is the Rider-Wood House,which is a good example of a middle income home in the early 1800's.Mary Rider was a widow,who helped nine of her nieces and nephews come across from England to get educated and established. 

                                         A bit of Rider -Wood House history

                                                          The kitchen area

                                                           Parlor area

                                                         Mrs Rider's bedroom

                              Nieces'  bedroom-notice the trundle bed sticking out?

This is the Chase House,the home to 19th century merchant Stephen Chase. It's an example of an upper class home. The Rider-Wood House is right across the street,so you can see the differences in living between the classes.It was built in 1762.

The kitchen. The light from the lamp reflects off the pewter dishes,which helps to light up the area.

                                                               The parlor

                                                    The dining room


I can't recall what the function of this room was. The wedding dress was Mrs. Chase's. Who designed the other dress I don't know,but I found it out of place. It looks like a style from the 1920's.                                                                            

                                                The stairway went up three floors

I noticed how the spindles were three different types. The gentleman who gave us info about the house explained that it was called the "Portsmouth Triple."

Imagine looking out this window everyday when coming down the stairs to the second story landing! Gorgeous!

                                                    What a pretty bedroom!

                                                          Child's bedroom

You can tell the the top three rows of glass are original-the glass is wavy. Glass was not perfect like it is today.

                           The man of the house has his own bedroom here as well :)

More to come!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!


  1. Oh thank you so much for posting so many wonderful pictures! What a wonderful place to visit and make such wonderful memories in celebration of your anniversary. I just love old houses and could move right in to any of these. I would want a modern privy of course ;)
    I really like the triple spindle design it is quite eye catching. I love that even though the rooms are sparse in a way, the architecture and furnishings make them feel elaborate. Or rather that is the point you focus on the architecture and furnishings which are gorgeous. Very beautiful and interesting tour. Thank you for sharing I can't wait to see more when you have a chance to post them :)

  2. Rick and I kept saying,"Imagine living here!" I LOVE old homes,their large fireplaces and all the intricate details.Glad you are enjoying the photos!