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Its deep harbor and the availability of an unlimited supply of tall pine trees sought by the British Royal Navy for shipbuilding combined to make Portsmouthone of America’s most important Colonial seaports.
The wealth of its merchants is easily appreciated when visiting one of the several historic homes of that era, each with its own special features.
The elegant Warner House, for example, has the oldest colonial wall paintings in their original place, as well as the earliest example of Queen Anne furniture in America. The equally elegant Moffatt-Ladd House, built in 1763, has its original furniture; it and the Rundlet-May House are known for their period gardens.
For a sense of how people lived here during different periods of the city’s four-century history, visit the 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum, preserving homes and other buildings in the old port neighborhood. Rather than restored to the same period, these homes, lodgings, and shops are preserved as they appeared in various eras, and costumed interpreters demonstrate period skills and crafts. Eras represented range from the 1600s to a neighborhood market stocked with foods of the 1940s.
A reminder that even in the north, the wealthy in seaport towns and elsewhere were served by enslaved people, Portsmouth’s Black Heritage Trail traces Black culture of the colonial and later periods. Sites include the docks where slaves were auctioned as they came off the ships, and a touching memorial park marking the location of a recently discovered African burial ground.
Portsmouth isn’t all about history. Market Square and the adjoining Market Street are lined with independent shops and boutiques, including the ultimate book and toy store for children, G. Willikers! And Portsmouth’s dining scene is enough to lure food lovers from Boston.
Along the waterfront, Prescott Park is filled with flowers in the summer, and often with music, as it’s the venue for the Summer Music Concert Series. The city’s main concert and performance venue is The Music Hall, with a year-round schedule of top names.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Portsmouth
Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Portsmouth, NH
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