My annual Fall leaf peeping trip was mid-October this year and I was concerned I would miss the best colors. That concern was misplaced, and we saw lots of beautifully colored Autumn foliage on a sunny October day.
Maine is my usual destination for fall colors, but this year we also made our way to Portsmouth, NH. Of particular interest to me was the Strawbery Banke Museum, a collection of restored homes in the Portsmouth area.
We started our leaf tour in Portland, Maine and headed south. We cruised through Kennebunk and York, then continued further south to Portsmouth.
On a previous trip here we had passed the Strawbery Banke museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and I decided then to come back and take the tour.
The Strawbery Banke Museum visitor’s guide has the following description:
Strawbery Banke Museum is unique in preserving neighborhood buildings original to their sites, buildings from Portsmouth locations rescued from demolition, and a vast collection of objects from Portsmouth’s past. 32 buildings at Strawbery Banke are on their original sites. Four were moved here to save them from demolition. Research and archaeology provide an historical background for the restorations. Additional research into the lives of former residents continues the story and provides the basis for interpretation.
Each house is restored to its original period, and decorated appropriately. Some of the homes have actors in period costumes.
We started in the Goodwin Mansion, the home of Civil War governor Ichabod Goodwin. It was built in 1811.
We walked the extensive neighborhood and toured the homes. Chase House was built in 1762 and home to Stephen Chase, an early 19th century merchant.
The Aldrich House, named for Victorian novelist, poet, and editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich was built in 1797.
The Pitt Tavern, built in 1766, is a Revolutionary War-era tavern visited by many famous people, including George Washington. It is also a Masonic Lodge, one of the oldest in the nation (1763).
The open air museum also included some homes not yet restored. You could walk into these homes and see cut aways of the structure. It made you realize the amount of work and resources it takes to restore an old home.
We walked through the 1943 general store, recognizing some brands. The costumed shop keeper, Mrs. Abbott, kept to her script and discussed “current” prices for war era goods.
In the Wheelwright House we were treated to a cooking demonstration. Baking was such an ordeal that it was usually only done once a week. The volunteer had baked a pie in the 18th century kitchen with its open hearth. It looked like a tremendous amount of work.
Strawbery Banke is a work in progress with 32 buildings, restored and unrestored.
After touring the open air museum, we walked the more modern part of the town. All this walking and touring required a restorative meal and beverage at a local tavern.
As per custom, a walk on the beach in the crisp Autumn air before jetting home to Florida. It is always a pleasure to visit New England in the Fall.
For more information on The Strawbery Banke Museum, please go to www.strawberybanke.org.