The Tuck Museum's Keep History Alive

By Steve Haberman,Hampton Focus Editor

Portsmouth Herald, June 19, 1989

Hampton Focus Section

[The following article is courtesy of The Portsmouth Herald and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- Founded in 1638, the Town of Hampton is one of the oldest towns in America. In the 350 years it has been in existance, it has amassed a wealth of history and has changed dramatically. There is one place in town, however, where that history has been kept alive. It is, of course, at the Tuck [Memorial] Museum on Meeting House Green, off [40} Park Avenue and a walk through this structure and the land that surrounds it is truly a walk through Hampton's rich past.

This year, both visitors to our area and citizens will find even more at the historic site than ever before, according to Jim Hunt, president of the Meeting House Green Memorial and Historical Association (Hampton's Historical Society). This year there will be three museums housing bits of Hampton's substantial heritage.

The Tuck Museum was established in 1925 through the efforts of Rev. Ira S. Jones, Jones, himself, not a native of the town, became involved in the community's rich history and felt that a memorial to the first settlers to the area was deserved. He interested a philanthropist, Edward Tuck of Paris, in the project and secured the funds necessary to purchase the Fogg property on Park Avenue for that purpose.

During a stroll through the four room structure one comes across everything from oil paintings by Charles Henry Turner, done in the late 1800's, of the old Fish Houses located on what is today North Beach, to antique furniture donated by the Goss family. There are maps of Hampton that span the centuries and a postcard collection astounding historical significance. Flags and signs fill the walls and in one corner is a piano produced by the M. [Moses] W. Brown piano company that was located on Vern Road, off Winnacunnet around the turn of the century.

Last year [1988], another museum opened on the green. It is the Firefighter's Museum which houses memorabilia from the town's fire department. There are old uniforms, badges, photos of the town's worst fire, even an old Hand-Tub [named Winnacunnet No. 1], a hand-pumped fire fighting device. All the displays were donated by member of the Hampton Fire Department and their families.

This year, the Association plans to open a Farm Museum at the site as well. This structure will house old tools, plows and the equipment used when salt haying was a major industry in Hampton. In fact, the wonderful fishing and the plentiful saltmarsh hay of the ara, according to Hunt, were the very reasons why the first settlers were encouraged to come to this area from Newburyport.

Combine the contents of these three buildings with the replica of the town's first school house and the various historical markers located on the green, and you have the precious history of this unique New England town preserved perfectly for the edification and information of its present day inhabitants.

The museums are supported by contributions, donations and the meager members hip dues of the historical society (an individual membership goes for $3 a year, with a lifetime members hip costing only $25). They are open free of charge to the public, this year from June 20 through the beginning of September and are staffed by volunteers.

A trip through the museums of Hampton, a quiet afternoon spent amid the family stones and green grass of the Meeting House Green, resurrects the glorious, and sometimes infamous past of this community, and adds to it the depth of history without which it, and in a sense, our lives shave less meaning.

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