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Colonel & Mrs. Folsom, Ghosts to take center stage at American Independence Museum

On Saturday, October 26, the American Independence Museum will host “Ghosts of Folsom Tavern and Winter Street Cemetery Tour.”

The tour will begin at Folsom Tavern where Colonel & Mrs. Folsom will introduce guests to their 1775 home and business. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Ewer, a 19th century spiritualist who lived in the tavern. Participants will then walk or drive to Winter Street Cemetery to meet their colonial tour guide, who will reveal the Folsoms’ final resting place and discuss the graves of many of Exeter’s famous and infamous revolutionary residents.

“This is autumnal-themed, non-scary fun during the Halloween season that is appropriate for all ages,” noted the museum’s Victoria Su, who organizes the event.

Among Exeter’s earliest settlers, the Folsoms arrived with the Gilman family with whom they were related. The history of both families–and that of Exeter and its role in the Revolutionary War–feature prominently in the exhibits and collection at the American Independence Museum.

Ghosts of Folsom Tavern and Winter Street Cemetery Tour will take place on Saturday, October 26 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Folsom Tavern with Winter Street Cemetery tours every 30 minutes beginning at 4 p.m. through 5:30 p.m. Cemetery tours will last approximately 45 minutes and guests attending the later two tours are encouraged to bring flashlights. 

The cost is $13 for non-members and $10 for non-member children, ages 6-18. Members are $8 and members’ children, ages 6-18, are $5. All children under the age of 6 are free.

Ticket prices include a visit to the museum day of the event (must visit Ladd-Gilman House before 3:30pm), activities and check in at Folsom Tavern with seasonal refreshments and cemetery tour.

To purchase tickets online, visit independencemuseum.org

Revolutionary Story Time continues to attract families

Presented by Exeter Hospital, the American Independence Museum’s Revolutionary Story Time provides kids, ages 3 to 5, and their caregivers with free entertainment on the first Thursday of each month, April through December.

“It’s a chance for families with young children to come and experience a space that is accessible, fun, and educational,” said museum Executive Director Emma Stratton. “There is real value in offering families this ‘third community space,’ and we are so thankful to partner with Exeter Hospital again to make this a reality.”

Featuring story-telling, live music and play-time, Revolutionary Story Time! next takes place at the museum’s Folsom Tavern on Thursday, October 3 from 2 to 4 pm.

Exeter Hospital’s Jenn McGowan said she is thrilled to see the continued growth of the program.

“We view community health from a very broad perspective, and it includes community space accessible to as many members of the community as possible,” she said. “Revolutionary Story Time is wonderful because it creates a family-friendly and safe space.”

On the first Thursday of each month through December from 2 to 4 pm at the museum’s Folsom Tavern at 164 Water Street in Exeter, kids and families are entertained by stories and live music. 

After the 30+ minute storytime program, parent-supervised playtime includes imaginary play, colonial games and period dress-up. 

Revolutionary Story Time takes place across the street from Swasey Parkway, which hosts Exeter Farmers’ Market from 2:15 pm to 6 pm every Thursday through October 31.

Harman Law Offices to present Re-Imagined Huzzah Family Workshop Series

Presented by Harman Law Offices, the American Independence Museum’s Huzzah Family Workshop Series this fall will present an opportunity for families to create (and eat) historically accurate food together. The series will also explore the relevance of colonial foodways to today.

At the first session on October 23 at the museum’s Folsom Tavern, families will use a variety of greens and vegetables that would have been available to colonists to prepare historically accurate salads. 

At the second session on November 20, families will make colonial cole slaw, which would have been made with vinegar as a means of preserving vegetables through the winter.

“I am delighted to sponsor this revamped series, which will engage entire families in activities that will get them thinking about history and have fun at the same time,” said Terrie Harman of Harman Law Offices.

According to museum Executive Director Emma Stratton, Harman’s support enabled the museum to devote additional time and resources to reconceive the program.

“We are very excited to work with Terrie and local restaurants to deliver an innovative new take on our Huzzah Family Workshop Series,” she said. “Creating an opportunity for families to both create a part of a meal and eat that meal in our historic Tavern is essential to connecting today.”

Both sessions are free, although there may be additional options to pre-purchase food from nearby restaurants to complement what participants make in the sessions. Details regarding times of the sessions and cost of additional food add-ons will be released soon.

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.

Kids have a “Revolutionary” time at American Independence Museum

On Thursday, September 5, Exeter Hospital will present Revolutionary Story Time! at the American Independence Museum.

Designed to entertain kids, ages 3 to 5, and their families, the free series features story-telling, live music and play-time.

“It’s a 2-hour program with a little bit of structure and plenty of time and space in which to play,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “We want to invite families to visit us and enjoy our property.”

Describing the museum “as more than a cultural institution,” Bray said it is important that their programs “engage people of all ages.”

“It is very important that people view us as a community resource, which is why our partnership with Exeter Hospital is so important,” she said. “Their support enables us to create a fun and lively program for young kids and their parents and caregivers.”

According to Jenn McGowan of Exeter Hospital, the museum’s emphasis on community reflects a shared core value.

“Both organizations believe in a healthy and strong community, and we can take a meaningful step toward that by working together,” she said. “It’s great to see kids and families taking advantage of this wonderful program.”

On the first Thursday of each month through December from 2 to 4 pm at the museum’s Folsom Tavern at 164 Water Street in Exeter, kids and families are entertained by stories and live music. After the 30+ minute program, parent-supervised playtime includes imaginary play, colonial games and period dress-up.

Due to the historical nature of the Tavern, strollers are not encouraged, as the building is not handicapped accessible. Reservations are accepted but not required. 

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.

To learn more about Revolutionary Story Time!, or the museum, visit www.independencemuseum.org.

Restoration work begins at American Independence Museum

After months of planning, major restoration work has begun at the American Independence Museum that will “transform its one acre campus,” according to Executive Director Emma Bray.

“It’s not just the aesthetics of our property, but some of the actual nuts and bolts of our Ladd-Gilman House,” she noted.

These “nuts and bolts” include concrete skirt removal around the Ladd-Gilman House (c.1721), repointing the foundation and replacement of rotten sills at its front.

“We will move to the drainage and re-grading portion of the work in August, weather-permitting,” said Bray, who said one outcome from this portion of the project will be quite noticeable.

“There will be a new path from Governors Lane and the brick patio of Ladd-Gilman House to Folsom Tavern [on Water Street],” she explained. “There will also be substantial improvements to the front yard between the caretaker’s cottage and gift shop entrance.”

That entire area, Bray noted, will be lowered to provide for a 6″ foundation reveal, which she described as “best practice in historic house preservation.” 

“Currently, our sill line for that portion of the house sits below grade, which contributes to our issues of water in the basement and rot for those clapboards below grade,” she said. “The front yard space will also be lowered, yard drains installed and entry pathways re-laid.”

In addition to $80,000 grant from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the project is funded by the Lewis Family Foundation, Samuel P. Hunt Foundation, William W. Treat Foundation, and private donors.

“We received a tremendous amount of support for this project, which is critical for the museum’s future and our ability to best care for our collection,” she said.

The museum’s collection includes one of only 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence and two rare drafts of the U.S. Constitution.

According to Bray, the project began in mid July with the removal of several trees, one of which included a dying ash located adjacent to People’s United Bank staff parking lot. 

“The removal of this and other trees were important for many reasons, but done so only after careful consideration and consultation,” said Bray.

In looking ahead, Ozzie Ayscue, president of the museum’s Board of Governors, said the project “puts a literal foundation under the 1721 Ladd-Gilman House and American Independence Museum collection.”

“We feel like we have a solid new platform for launching diverse experiential programs for an expanding community,” he said.

Bray agreed and added, “We are but stewards of this property, so it is very gratifying to prepare for the future, especially as we look to the Ladd-Gilman’s 300th anniversary in 2021.”

Even with the financial support received so far, Bray said it is clear more funding will be needed to successfully accomplish all aspects of the project.

“It is important we take this opportunity to do all we can right now to ensure the integrity of the Ladd-Gilman House and our collection, so future generations may enjoy it far into the future,” she added. “This is an exciting moment for the museum and the Town of Exeter.”