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The Woodman Offers Unique Glimpse into NH History


Out of more than 15 museums on the New Hampshire Heritage Museum Trail, one of the most unique is The Woodman Museum in Dover, located in the Seacoast region of the state.

Founded in 1916 from a trust established by Annie E. Woodman, The Woodman features four historic houses, each one revealing a different aspect of history in the Granite State:

1.The Woodman House (1818) holds a military history gallery highlighting the Civil War through Vietnam and a collection of rocks, minerals, fossils, and taxidermy specimens (animals, aquatic life, birds, and butterflies).
2.The Damm Garrison House (1675), the oldest house in Dover, contains 800 artifacts from the colonial era.
3.The John Parker Hale House (1813), aside from telling the story of one of America’s foremost Abolitionists and ally of Abraham Lincoln (and whose daughter, Lucy was engaged to John Wilkes Booth), informs visitors of the socioeconomic history of Dover. It also provides primary examples of Portsmouth furniture and related art and artifacts.
4.The Keefe House (1825) contains a library where the museum stores its collection of the city records of Dover and Thom Hindle Art Gallery.

According to Mike Day of The Woodman, recent changes to The Woodman House itself are also of importance.

“We have recently finished phase 1 of the Woodman’s Accessibility Project, which saw new ramps and walkways,” he said. “These were designed to compliment the historic nature of the buildings on campus and installed in order to increase physical access to people of all abilities…Looking ahead,.the museum will seek funding for digital access to the upper floors.”

The Woodman’s programs reflect are equally accessible and of interest to all ages with one example its “Lives & Legends: Voices From the Museum.” At this event on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, visitors meet famous and infamous Dover citizens and historical characters in a 90-minute guided walk through 19 scenes spread throughout the museum’s campus.

In most scenes, denizens have come back from the dead to narrate their stories. In two scenes, however, these renowned Dover citizens are still alive with remarkable tales to tell.

To learn more about The Woodman, or any upcoming event there, visit woodmanmuseum.org.

In total, 17 museums make up the NH Heritage Museum Trail, which is broken down into three branches: Seacoast, Merrimack Valley and Lake Region. Stops on The Trail include Canterbury, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Laconia, Manchester, Moultonborough, Plymouth, Tamworth, and Wolfeboro.

NH Heritage Museum Trail retools for 2018 and beyond

Formed in 2014 as a way to share resources and better promote their respective collections, programs and events, the NH Heritage Museum Trail recently re-branded itself and its mission.

“We took a hard look at our objectives and capacity,” noted Mike Culver of the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, who expressed excitement at “a new future for The Trail.”

This new future, according to Jeff Barraclough of the Millyard Museum in Manchester, entails splitting The Trail into 3 branches: Seacoast, Merrimack Valley and Lake Region.

“It breaks The Trail into regions that correspond with how the state promotes New Hampshire, too, so we felt it was important to use that concept to drive how we market ourselves,” he said. “People cannot realistically visit all our museums in one trip, but they could visit one of our regions.”

In addition to breaking The Trail into three distinct, but connected, branches, a new mission and vision was formed to better reflect how individual museum members view one another as part of the group.

The new mission statement is “NH Heritage Museum Trail: Connecting the public with culturally rich heritage institutions in New Hampshire.”

The new vision statement is “Our member museums will be recognized as significant leading cultural institutions which preserve and promote an understanding and appreciation of our
national and state heritage.”

Both Culver and Barraclough expressed excitement at the evolution of the NH Heritage Museum Trail.

“Our museums capture the spirit and history of the state from across more than 3 centuries,” said Culver.

“Barraclough agreed and added, “We look forward to reintroducing ourselves to the public in 2018. New Hampshire has such a rich and underappreciated history, and our member museums are perfectly positioned to shed light on different aspects of it for people of all ages.”

In total, 17 museums make up the NH Heritage Museum Trail. Stops on The Trail include Canterbury, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Laconia, Manchester, Moultonborough, Plymouth, Plymouth, Tamworth and Wolfeboro.