I love historic homes and exploring historic places. I find learning about the past, observing the differences in architecture and lifestyle very fascinating. In New England we are lucky to have a few living history museums where visitors can get a full idea of the history of the area and how residents lived in the colonial era. One of the most interesting of those is the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH.
One of the features I found most interesting was the rustic wooden furniture near the gazebo and the greenhouse. The child sized table and chairs reminded me of the playhouse I used to have as a child. Seeing these beautiful pieces really accentuated how great this place is for a family outing, the children can enjoy the history as well as indulge their imagination, maybe go ice skating in the rink that is open during the winter months, frolic and play in the gardens, and then visit the different houses and interact with the “residents”. It is easier to get children to engage with history in a place like Strawbery Banke, where the staff is dressed in costume and will answer all questions in character. Unfortunately the museum was closed when I visited, but the grounds are open to the public and they encourage you to explore it and take in the architecture and scenery.
Strawbery Banke is also where you will find a lot of the properties listed in the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail. Meant to educate visitors about the rich history of African Americans in the area, the trail features several properties throughout Portsmouth, most containing display plaques like this is one above, which tell you a little about the property’s history and significance in African American history or culture. Visitors can take a self-guided tour and view the properties even in the off-season. Even without going inside I find just viewing the architecture, reading and thinking about the story behind the properties and the people who inhabited them, is worthwhile.
If you find yourself in Portsmouth like I did, no matter what the time of year, Strawbery Banke Museum is worth a visit. How long you stay will depend on whether it is open or not, but there is plenty to see and learn about the history of this area. If you are looking for some nice views, check out my photos New Castle Island, only a couple of minutes away from Strawbery Banke. If you are searching for other historical “living” museums in New England, I also recommend Historic Deerfield in Western Massachusetts.
Have you visited Strawbery Banke or any other “living history” museum? What did you think?