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Children, Families the Focus in July at American Independence Museum

In July, children and families are a big focus at the American Independence Museum in Exeter.

On Tuesday, July 2, The Provident Bank is sponsoring free admission for residents of any age from SAU 16, which includes Brentwood, East Kingston, Exeter, Kensington, Newfields, and Stratham. On Saturday, July 6, free admission will also be made available to SAU 16 residents, courtesy of Kennebunk Savings.

“Both banks are also sponsoring the free admission for SAU 16 residents on the first Tuesday and Saturday in August, respectively,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “This is a wonderful opportunity for local residents to see first hand the improvements we have made within our museum as well as our new exhibits.”

Presented by Exeter Hospital, a special patriotic sing-along edition of Revolutionary Story Time! takes place on Thursday, July 4 from 11am to 1 pm.  At this event, families and guests of all ages are invited to Folsom Tavern to celebrate Independence Day with song led by a colonial reenactor, patriotic cake, and colonial games. The event is free and part of a year long series, which takes place on the first Thursday of each month through December.

The largest event annually hosted by the museum, the American Independence Festival takes place on Saturday, July 13 and is expected to attract thousands. Presented by Newburyport Bank, the event features everything from traditional craft demonstrations and battle re-enactments to a beer garden, live music, games, local food, art and craft marketplace, and more.  

The Festival also marks the conclusion of the museum’s Revolutionary Kids Camp, which begins Tuesday, July 9. In this full-day living history experience, youth (ages 9 – 12) immerse themselves in the past and assume the role of a real 18th century Exeter resident, complete with colonial clothing.  At the Festival, youth show off what they have learned in camp, which concludes Friday, July 12.

“It’s a busy month for us and one in which I hope we see many new faces,” added Bray.  “We want people to see the museum as ‘their’ space.”

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, American Independence  Museum welcomes more than 5,000 visitors annually and distinguishes itself with educational school programs and events that make history fun and relevant.

Newburyport Bank to present American Independence Festival

History is often seen as a sequence of events that resides in the past, which is only partly accurate and serves as a subtle theme that underscores the American Independence Festival on Saturday, July 13.

“Our Revolutionary history provides a unique and relevant glimpse into who we are today as Americans,” said Emma Bray, executive director of the American Independence Museum, which hosts the festival. 

This theme recently caught the attention of Newburyport Bank, which presented Bray with a $5,000 check  at their new branch in Exeter to sponsor the festival.  

“We are so enthusiastic about this partnership and the connection between our two organizations,” said Bray. “It is clear we both value and honor the importance of history.”

Lloyd Hamm, Jr., president and CEO, Newburyport Bank, agreed and described himself as “a strong enthusiast of history.”

“I love seeing it energized and want to thank the museum for bringing history to life for the citizens of our communities,” he said.

At the American Independence Festival, visitors experience everything from traditional craft demonstrations and battle re-enactments to a beer garden, live music, games, local food, art and craft marketplace, and more.

In serving as presenting sponsor of the festival, Hamm, Jr.  said he believes Newburyport Bank takes an important step to supporting the greater Exeter community.

“I so appreciate that our Bank, which is new to the Exeter community but active in the region since 1854, can share in this important opportunity for inspiration and learning,” he said.

The festival also serves to conjure within Hamm, Jr. fond memories of a childhood experience in which he participated in the 1976 bicentennial celebrations as a member of the Town of Upton, MA militia. 

“For me, it was a vibrant instrument for understanding and enjoying history,” he recalled. “I  remember bounding through fields of New England with my 75 caliber Brown Bess in hand, battling the British 10th or 54th regiments. It was so much fun to see the looks of awe and enjoyment on the faces of the crowds as our nation’s important history was brought to life.”

It is precisely this kind of experience that Bray said visitors can experience at the festival, which features more than 100 colonial re-enactors, most of whom stay in character throughout the day.

“The festival literally brings history to life,” she said. “We are so thankful to partner with Newburyport Bank to present this unique and engaging experience for people of all ages.”

The American Independence Festival takes place on Saturday, July 13 at the American Independence Festival from 10 am to 4 pm with the beer tent open until 6 pm.

Festival tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for ages 6 to 18; and free for children under 6, active and retired military, veterans, and Museum members. 

To learn more, or purchase tickets, visit

American Independence Museum to host ‘Unearthed at the AIM’

Presented by People’s United Bank, ‘Unearthed at the AIM’ on Wednesday, June 26 at 12 noon is the next free Lunch and Learn event in the 2019 Lecture Series at the American Independence Museum.

According to museum Executive Director Emma Bray, this talk will be particularly meaningful, as guests will be able to learn about some of the findings of a recent archaeological project outside the Ladd-Gilman House (c. 1721).

“We are currently engaged in a project that will include perimeter excavation and regrading outside the Ladd-Gilman House, foundation repointing and repair of a modern stone retaining wall,” she said. “We are also restoring rotten sills and adding storm doors…Archaeology, though, was the first step, and some interesting things were found.”

The project is made possible from an $80,000 grant award from New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and private funders, including Samuel P. Hunt Foundation, William W. Treat Foundation, Lewis Family Foundation and Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire.

“We have been fortunate to receive a groundswell of support for this project, which will take care of many issues around and in the Ladd-Gilman House that jeopardize some items in our collection,” added Bray.

At ‘Unearthed at the AIM,’ Jesse Cofelice, principal investigator at Independent Archaeological Consulting will discuss what has been found outside the museum and in other projects around the region.

“This is a chance to meet an archaeologist that is literally digging through history — it really will be quite fascinating,” said Victoria Su, who organizes the 2019 Lecture Series. “This is a great way to spend your lunch hour and learn something, too.”

‘Unearthed at the AIM’ will take place on Wednesday, June 26 at 12pm.

Presented by People’s United Bank, there is no charge to attend any event in the 2019 Lecture Series and attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch.

Kennebunk Savings to partner with American Independence Museum

In 2019, the American Independence Museum is working with a number of local businesses to create free or reduced admission for area residents with the latest partnership with Kennebunk Savings.

In this partnership, the museum will provide free admission on the first Saturday of July and August to residents of SAU 16, which includes Brentwood, East Kingston, Exeter, Kensington, Newfields, and Stratham.

On these dates, July 6 and August 3, respectively, residents of any age from the aforementioned towns will gain entry to the museum’s Ladd-Gilman House and Folsom Tavern at no charge.

Bradford Paige, President and CEO of Kennebunk Savings, said they support this initiative because the museum is “keeping history alive by engaging the youth in our community.”

“We see the importance in ensuring the museum is accessible to everyone and are very pleased to sponsor ‘Free Admission First Saturdays’ for residents as part of our Community Promise Program,” he said. 

Paige also expressed enthusiasm in the museum’s 2019 theme of civic engagement.

 “The museum’s theme of civic engagement is sure to inspire young minds to dream big and know they can affect positive change in the world,” he added.

Museum Executive Director Emma Bray said she is grateful at the opportunity to work with Kennebunk Savings for the first time. Recently, Bray met with Kelly Hutchinson, Vice President/Branch Manager of Kennebunk Savings in Stratham, to discuss the museum’s collection and the partnership.

“In visiting with Kelly, it became clear we have a shared vision for Exeter,” she said. “This partnership results from this shared vision.” 

On Saturday, July 6 and Saturday, August 3, free admission will be provided to residents of Brentwood, East Kingston, Exeter, Kensington, Newfields, and Stratham.