Portsmouth Historical Society turns 75

Herbert Hall next to an "auto-sickle," housed in the old Town Hall building behind the Portsmouth Historical Society. "It was used to take out big nasty weeds in your lawn," he said. Herbert Hall next to an "auto-sickle," housed in the old Town Hall building behind the Portsmouth Historical Society. "It was used to take out big nasty weeds in your lawn," he said.

Herbert Hall next to an "auto-sickle," housed in the old Town Hall building behind the Portsmouth Historical Society. "It was used to take out big nasty weeds in your lawn," he said.

Herbert Hall next to an “auto-sickle,” housed in the old Town Hall building behind the Portsmouth Historical Society. “It was used to take out big nasty weeds in your lawn,” he said.

PORTSMOUTH — Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you know that the town is celebrating its 375th anniversary this year.

A lesser-known milestone, however, is quietly being observed at the corner of East Main Road and Union Street. That’s the home of the Portsmouth Historical Society, which was founded in June 1938 — 75 years ago this month.

“Quietly,” we say, because the museum doesn’t exactly get an overwhelming amount of foot traffic.

“One of the problems is there’s a lot of competing events because there’s so much happening,” said Marjorie Webster, the Society’s librarian and curator. “People aren’t too familiar with us and our hours are quite limited — between 2 and 4 on Sundays, in season. When people come we have great events; it’s getting them in the doors which is tough.”

Carolyn Nelson, vice president, said plenty of people are curious about the museum, though.

“A lot of times people come in after seeing the flag out,” she said. “They say, ‘I’ve driven past this place for years and never came in.’ And that’s kind of the story for a lot of historical societies and small museums. Some days we don’t see anybody. Other days, we’re slammed from 2 to 4.”

Members are working to get more people through the door during this anniversary year with their latest exhibit, “Southside, Northside, All Around the Town,” which runs every Sunday through Columbus Day. Admission to the museum is free — the Society charges admission only for the Harvest Social, which is set for Oct. 20 — but donations are welcome.

The Society’s museum, open from 2-4 p.m. on Sundays, is located at 870 East Main Road, Portsmouth. For more information, call 683-9178 or visit http://portsmouthhistorical.com.

For more about the exhibit and the Society in general, pick up a copy of this week’s (June 20) Portsmouth Times.

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