Edward Jones to present ‘peek’ inside the American Independence Museum

On Wednesday, September 25, the American Independence Museum will host “Inside the American Independence Museum” an event designed for the corporate sector to learn more about the museum and its value as an economic force.

“We educate visitors both on and off-site, we preserve important historic items, we create revenue generating opportunities for other businesses,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “This is a chance to learn more about us and all museums, which are complex business entities.”

Taking place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on the patio of the Ladd-Gilman House, the free event is sponsored by Karin Behrens-Bouvier, financial advisor with Edward Jones.

A longtime supporter of the museum, Behrens-Bouvier said she believes the American Independence Museum is important to not just Exeter, but the greater Seacoast region.

“I have always admired their role in the community and their efforts to educate people as well as provide a place for locals and tourists to gather throughout the year,” she said. “I look forward to learning more about the museum, its unique collection and to meet fellow civic-minded corporate citizens.”

Featuring light appetizers and drinks, “Inside the American Independence Museum” is free and designed specifically for the corporate sector. The event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, September 25 on the patio of the museum’s Ladd-Gilman House at 1 Governors Lane.

“This is a chance for business owners and those in the corporate sector to learn more about us and to brainstorm ways we can potentially collaborate with one another,” added Bray. 

RSVP is required. To RSVP for the event, email Bray at [email protected]

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.”

American Independence Museum to host 29th American Independence Festival

On Saturday, July 13, thousands will descend upon downtown Exeter, NH, former capital of the Granite State during the Revolutionary War, for the 29th Annual American Independence Festival. 

Celebrating the arrival of an original copy of the Declaration of Independence in town on July 16, 1776, the festival features a variety of entertainment, including music, battle re-enactment, tradition artisan working village and more. 

One of the festival’s most unique highlights, however, is within the museum’s Ladd-Gilman House, which will feature one of the few remaining copies of the Declaration of Independence. Its arrival in Exeter is recreated at 11 am with a horseback delivery of the document that is then read by Greg Gilman. He is the direct descendant of John Taylor Gilman, who read the Declaration of Independence to the townspeople of Exeter on July 16, 1776.

“This is a unique opportunity to participate in a recreation of a seminal point in our state’s and nation’s history,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray.

Presented by Newburyport Bank, the festival is additionally supported by New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, RiverWoods Exeter, Ruffner Real Estate, Exeter Hospital, Historic Motor Sports, Mitchell & Monti and Proulx Oil & Propane.

“This is a wonderful community event that educates, entertains and, we hope, inspires others to learn more about our nation’s history and its continued importance today,” added Bray.

Other highlights of the festival include colonial-inspired beer brewed by Cisco in Folsom Tavern from 12 to 6 pm, a craft and art fair and local food.

Tickets for the festival, which takes place from 10 am to 4 pm, are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6 to 18, and free for children under 6 and museum members. Courtesy of Chinburg Properties, free admission is also available to active/retired military, veterans, and their immediate families. All proceeds benefit the American Independence Museum and support future festivals.