Tuck Museum Houses Town's Treasures
1638 -- 1988
Rockingham County Newspaper -- July 8, 1988
Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
By Kathy Bailey, Contributing Writer
Hampton Historical Society at 40 Park Avenue, Hampton
[Staff photo/Bill Murphy]
The Tuck Memorial Museum, operated by the Hampton Historical Society, preserves these and other treasures in its complex at 40 Park Avenue, Hampton. There's something to please every taste, according to acting curator Roland W. Paige.
Paige says the museum was started in 1925, the inspiration of Rev. Ira S. Jones, a local minister who saw a need for a place to display historic Hampton artifacts. Jones contacted philanthropist and financier Edward Tuck, then of Paris, France, formerly of Hampton, and Tuck provided money to buy the Fogg property on Park Avenue.
The house was renovated, and an addition built in 1961 in order to exhibit more of the burgeoning Hampton collection. Tuck later spent funds to establish Tuck Field, a community sports facility.
Not A Catch-all
The woman who wore it may have placed her child in an item called a "standing stool." Ancestor of the playpen, the wooden standing stool kept toddlers restrained while their mothers labored at the fireplace or wood stove. The Tuck Museum offers an 1858 version, made by Joseph Philbrick.
The museum boasts several irreplaceable items, including the Locke Family Quilt. Paige notes that the red quilt squares were soldiers' red coats. Julia Locke Dewey, the quilt's seamstress, ran out of cloth and had to send to England for more. Paige believes the quilt was made soon after the Revolutionary War.
Those interested in tools and implements will find plenty to keep them busy, including a selection of equipment for salt marsh haying. The museum has a "loafer rake," used to clean up scatterings after the initial raking and mowing. A sample hay staddle, made of cedar or oak and used for drying the hay, may also be seen. The museum also owns several bog shoes — special shoes made for horses so they wouldn't sink into the marsh during haying.
The area's nautical past is represented by souvenirs of the Squalus, a submarine which sank off North Beach in 1939. A framed photo shows how the Squalus was retrieved. She was reconditioned at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and renamed Sailfish. She served in the Pacific "brilliantly, during World War II," Paige recalls.
Paige has been acting curator for two years. During his tenure, he's noted that most acquisitions come either from family members or strangers who buy an old house, clean out the attic, and don't know what to do with antiques and memorabilia.
"We don't often get cups mailed from California," he says.
The items most often donated, Paige adds, seem to be diaries and old town reports. For example, when the Garland Homestead on Winnacunnet Road was sold, someone dug Jonathan Garland's diaries, circa 1840, out of the attic and gave them to the museum. The journals, more like account books, tell, in spidery script, of the sale of a pair of shoes and a horse collar for $1 each.
Paige says the diaries, account books and deeds are especially popular with college students doing research. "They're, interesting reading," he notes, because they give a picture of everyday-life in early America.
Paige says people occasionally donate something unsuitable, but adds, "We take anything. We'll judge it later on."
Future plans include an oil painting series of salt marsh haying, which will help visitors visualize hay staddles, bog shoes and loafer rakes in use.
Paige also wants to augment a recently-begun collection of coats- of-arms. He has the Leavitt family's, the Garland family's and his own. He wants coats-of-arms for all the old-time Hampton families.
The Tuck Memorial Museum is open every day during July and August, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Admission is free.