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American Independence Museum to open Foy Family Children’s Library in 2020

The site of many American Independence Museum programs, Folsom Tavern (c. 1775) will undergo a transformation in 2020 with the creation of the Foy Family Children’s Library.

Featuring curated books, seating for children, activity table and more, the Foy Family Children’s Library is made possible by a gift from Jeff and Melissa Foy of East Kingston.

According to Jeff Foy, who has supported the museum for years as co-owner of Foy Insurance, the gift ensures “there will be a permanent place for kids at the museum.”

“My wife Melissa was an elementary school librarian before retiring and I have always loved history, so we saw a chance to combine both our passions and make a lasting impact here,” he said. “We are thrilled to be part of the museum and this project.”

In addition to a dedicated space for a children’s library, the gift will enable the museum to upgrade its entire Children’s Room, which will include high-quality games, clothes, toys and more.

“This library and space is part of a larger initiative to transform our campus into an inviting space for local community members and visitors to Exeter,” said Emma Stratton, museum Executive Director. “We are very thankful for this gift.”

Noting work will begin sometime in February or March, the Foy Family Children’s Library is expected to be complete and open for the start of the American Independence Museum’s 2020 season on May 1. 

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the 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

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. 

Chinburg Properties honors active military, veterans and their families

Open for the 2019 season, the American Independence Museum features a collection that is particular interest to active military and veterans, both groups recently granted free admission this year courtesy of Chinburg Properties.

“Our collection helps tell the story of how our nation was founded and the sacrifices of our nation’s first military,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “Anyone who has ever served will find our collection and the stories behind many of our objects especially interesting.”

In addition to active military and veterans, the gift from Chinburg Properties enables their families to take tours and access programs and events at no charge in 2019.

“We have worked very hard this offseason to modernize aspects of our exhibits, which will better engage people of all ages and learning styles,” said Bray. “Chinburg Properties is helping us reach people who may not otherwise know about us or be able to visit.”

For Jennifer Chinburg of Chinburg Properties, the investment in the museum directly benefits the surrounding communities.

“From their collection to education programs and family events, we believe in what the museum is doing in our communities,” she said. “We are honored to be able to support their work in the community as well as the sacrifices made by active military, veterans and their families.”

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

Lecture Series gets a boost from People’s United Bank

For several years, People’s United Bank has sponsored the American Independence Museum’s evening and afternoon lecture series, a partnership that has been renewed for 2019. According to museum Executive Director Emma Bray, though, this partnership is particularly fruitful.

“It is one where both organizations are working toward a shared vision,” she said. “The level of involvement by People’s United Bank not only includes financial support, but their attendance at individual events. That level of engagement is important and enhances the program.”

For Marc Ouellette, vice president, senior market manager at People’s United Bank, the Lecture Series addresses an important educational need in the community.

“This is a great series because it touches on the fundamentals of our nation’s history, which is not taught in the classroom as much as maybe it should,” he said. 

Referring to the museum as “unique and forward-thinking” in its educational approach, Ouellette said the continued partnership with the American Independence Museum represents “a win-win.”

“The museum benefits as does the community,” he said. “People’s United Bank is very thankful to be included in this wonderful educational lecture series.”

This year, the museum plans to host 6 or more lectures, some during the afternoon known as Lunch and Learns with evening events referred to as Tavern Talks. This year, all events in the series will reflect the museum’s 2019 theme of Civic Engagement.

“We feel this theme is very relevant given the climate of today,” said Bray. “Regardless of someone’s politic beliefs, I think we can all say it is important to be involved as civic-minded citizens. The questions we will try to answer this year is what does that really mean?”

Ouellette said he looks forward to this year’s series, which kicks off with Moved and Seconded: Town Meeting in New Hampshire on Wednesday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m. Author of eleven books, Rebecca Rule will facilitate the talk. For ten years, she hosted “The New Hampshire Authors Series” on NHPTV. She currently hosts “Our Hometown,” which is also on NHPTV.

“We are excited to see this series unfold and very enthusiastic at the quality of the speakers they are bringing into the community,” he said. “People’s United Bank sees tremendous value in this series, and we are proud to sponsor it.”

Other scheduled talks include New England’s Colonial Meetinghouses and Their Impact on American Society, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 8 at 12 noon.

Additional talks, which will soon be added to the schedule, are likely to include town officials who will speak on their various respective capacities and roles.

“We also plan to bring in some folks at the state level,” added Bray. “This series keeps expanding, and we are happy to have the support of People’s United Bank behind us.”

Tavern Talks are additionally supported by a Humanities-To-Go grant from the NH Humanities Council.