Colonial History — Northern Tour
New Hampshire, Maine & Massachusetts
See also: Colonial History (Southern Tour)
- Charlestown, New Hampshire: Families on the frontier
From the 1740s to 1760s, the Fort at No. 4 was the northern frontier of the British colonies. Instead of a military outpost, this was a family settlement, fortified against raids by the French and Indians. Take a guided tour of the reconstructed fort; on special weekends, watch spinning, open hearth cooking and blacksmiths at work.
- Concord, New Hampshire: New Hampshire’s past
Displays at the Museum of New Hampshire History begin way before the state was settled by Europeans. Alongside Native American artifacts are tributes to early heroes such as Loyalist inventor Benjamin Thompson and the rural masterpieces made by Scots-Irish cabinetmakers.
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Strawbery Banke Museum
Founded in 1630, Portsmouth has long been an important seaport. The ‘Father of the US Navy,’ John Paul Jones, lived here during the Revolution to oversee the construction of two warships. At Strawbery Banke, an open air museum with some 40 historic buildings, you can see ‘how they lived’ from 1695 to the 1950s.
- Side trip to Portland, Maine: Portland
In 1775, when this major port was still known as Falmouth, it was virtually destroyed by British warships. Rebuilt and renamed, its seafaring and commerce continued. Across the harbor on Cape Elizabeth, the photogenic Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, dating from 1791.
- Exeter, New Hampshire: Once a capital
During the Revolution, this hotbed of patriotism served as the capital of New Hampshire, replacing Portsmouth, where Tory sentiment was strong. Across the river from the Town Hall and Congregational Church is the tiny powder house, a military storehouse built in 1771 but also used for supplies in the War of 1812.
- Newburyport, Massachusetts: Shipbuilding
Founded in 1636, this shipbuilding town is an architectural digest of styles: Colonial, early 19th century Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian. In the 1835 Custom House, the Maritime Museum charts the importance of this site on the Merrimack River, while the Cushing House shows how luxurious a wealthy merchant’s home could be.
- Salem, Massachusetts: Witches and sea captains
Famous for its 17th century witch trials (learn all about it at the Salem Witch Museum), this was one of the country’s wealthiest ports in the 18th century and early 19th century. Stroll past fine homes built on the profits of trade, then see the ‘souvenirs’ brought back by sea captains in the outstanding Peabody Essex Museum.
- Colonial History (Southern Tour)
- New England Activities: History & Heritage
- New England Activities: Living History Museums
For more information on history & heritage sites in each state: