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Always wondered what that beautiful yellow mansion was on the corner of Middle and State streets in downtown Portsmouth? Always wanted to come into the gardens or peek inside the house but haven’t put that on your calendar yet? Now’s your chance. 

Portsmouth Historical Society announces that the John Paul Jones House, a National Historic Landmark, will open for the 2017 season on Memorial Day Monday May 29. Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the landmark remains open until Columbus Day, Monday October 9, with special one-day opening on Veterans Day, Saturday November 11, 2017, when admission is free. New this year are renovations to the historic home which will include an archaeological dig (stay tuned!), and the return of a special exhibition entitled, The Odd & the Elegant, curated by Gerry Ward and Lainey McCartney. 

Gerry Ward, curator, said, “It is a great pleasure to open the doors of the John Paul Jones House for the summer season.  Once again, our visitors will have access to this grand Georgian mansion, built in 1758 and filled with collections pertaining to four centuries of Portsmouth’s history.  This year, in addition to the several galleries devoted to John Paul Jones, the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty signed in Portsmouth in 1905, Portsmouth’s maritime history, and local paintings and decorative arts, we are again featuring a special exhibition of amazing objects ‘discovered’ in storage, treasures that rarely see the light of day.”


About the exhibition, The Odd & the Elegant:

An historical society is many things to many people. Portsmouth Historical Society, founded a century ago, is home to an amazing collection of art and artifacts assembled since the John Paul Jones House opened its doors to the public in 1920.  Principally given by many generous donors, these three-dimensional artifacts complement the Society’s rich holdings of manuscripts, photographs, and other documents on deposit at the Portsmouth Athenaeum. This exhibition includes more than 100 carefully selected objects from the Society’s collection that illustrate the wide-ranging, eclectic nature of this institution’s holdings.  Widely varied in date and material, these objects represent one community’s attempt over time to preserve the tangible goods that represent its history. The exhibition includes:

Many “icons of continuity” that preserve the memory of deceased ancestors—a critical function of any museum collection.

Some almost medieval-type reliquaries—associated with local people, events, and landmarks.

Extraordinary silver, fans, woodwork, and other objects that demonstrate the significant aesthetic achievements of artists and craftsmen and the taste of local consumers.

A group of locally owned ceramics, made around the world in China, Europe, England, and North America.

Several exotic, unusual, and even “odd” items that were thought to be worthy of preservation, often reflecting out-moded customs or obsolete technology. 

A number of “curiosities,” such as an ostrich egg and a seventeenth-century Syrian tile, that cause one to wonder what their connection to the history of Portsmouth might be!



About the renovations and archeology:

Reagan Ruedig, co-chair of the institution’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, said, “We are happy to be continuing the renovation work at the John Paul Jones House this year. We have just received our second LCHIP award, which will allow us to make much-needed repairs to the foundation of the building. Archaeological work will go hand in hand with the foundation work this year, which will provide an exciting opportunity to dig a little deeper into the history of the property (pun intended)!”


Upcoming events

John Paul Jones House on South Church Pocket Garden Tour

Friday, June 23 5-8 p.m. Saturday June 23 9-3 p.m. 


John Paul Jones Birthday Party 
Sunday, July 9, 2017 1-4 p.m.


John Paul Jones Fall Jubilee + Silent Auction

Thursday, September 7 5:30-8:30pm