March Bookshelf: N.H.’s Earliest Neighborhood




Dennis Robinson’s latest book is a weighty tome — four pounds, to be exact. Aside from its sturdy clothbound cover and substantial pages, the reason “Strawbery Banke: A Seaport Museum 400 Years in the Making” is so heavy is contained in its title — it tells a tale that spans four centuries of Strawbery Banke history, going all the way back to a trader who came to what is now Portsmouth decades before the Pilgrims arrived. (He is said to have been looking for sassafras to cure venereal disease.) The history is so rich and complex, Robinson says, he just wrote until he “felt the tale was done.” At 432 pages, it’s a serious read, but Robinson’s elegant writing makes its reading effortless. He says he set out to write a page-turner that pulls people in like a detective novel, and in that he has succeeded. In the book Robinson didn’t simply rearrange dusty facts about Strawbery Banke’s history, he spent long months researching it, along the way unearthing fabrications, inaccuracies and never-before-published information. “Never trust old history books,” says Robinson, who is editor and owner of the regional Web site www.SeacoastNH.com. His due diligence (“as a journalist, I’m used to poking around where I don’t belong”) drew praise from no less a history luminary than filmmaker Ken Burns, who called it “an important book.” That’s no surprise to us — we named Robinson New Hampshire’s “Best History Writer” in 2007. Robinson ushers the reader through the early years of Strawbery Banke as a bustling (and at times seamy) seaport through the “Puddle Dock” neighborhood of 19th-century immigrants to the controversial federal development project that would wipe out that neighborhood through eminent domain and on to the creation 50 years ago of the 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum that preserves the past. Robinson says, “These 10 acres tell the evolving story of this nation better than any other historic campus I know.” “Strawbery Banke: A Seaport Museum 400 Years in the Making” was published by Peter E. Randall and is distributed by University Press of New England, www.upne.com.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. New Hampshire Craft Beer: Big Ideas in Small Batches
    In pre-Prohibition days, nearly every town had its very own brewery. Though we’re not quite...
  2. 10 Reasons Why YOU Should Visit the NH Motor Speedway
    Need a good reason to go to a NASCAR race in Loudon? Here are 10 of them. If you still refuse,...
  3. Forever Autumn in the Town of Warner
    A front porch gathering with family and friends for a fall harvest luncheon during Warner Fall...
  4. Trish Regan's Granite State Story
    The Fox Business anchor recalls her New Hampshire roots.
  5. On the Streets with Manchester's Homeless Teens
    Street life is no dream (and little sleep) for homeless teens in the Queen City.
  6. 11 Fabulous Fall Foliage Drives
    Try these byways for peak leaf-peeping.
  7. Drive and Dine in Dover
    Good eats — from breakfast to fine dining
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags