GSA Blog: NH Historical Society Visit
By: Bobbie Goodrich, Silver Anniversary GSA Class of 2021
Concord, NH March 25, 2023
After viewing the GSA Zoom Educational Program on March 6th titled “Covered Bridges of NH” presented by Kim Varney Chandler, author of the book by the same name, I spent some time looking at her website. When I learned she would be presenting a talk by the same name at the NH Historical Society at 30 Park St. in Concord on March 25th, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see the Society’s collection and also have my husband and a friend hear Kim’s talk. We also decided to purchase the NH Museum Trail pass for the bargain price of $25, to try to see as many of the museums as we can in the next year. The Passport admits one to any or all of the 21 museums in 3 regions of the state, which are the Seacoast, Lakes Region and Merrimack Valley.
The NH Historical Society was founded in 1823 and is the 5th oldest historical society in the country. its headquarters building, financed by Edward Tuck, banker, diplomat and philanthropist, was constructed in
1911, and is located behind the NH Statehouse. The Portal above the front door was sculpted by Daniel Chester French and is constructed from a single flawless block of NH granite from Swenson’s granite quarry in Concord.
Inside the building, you will enter the beautiful rotunda of Siena marble. It is open above to the domed ceiling with ornate leaded skylight above. On the stairway to the second floor there is a 6’ gilded eagle, which formerly sat atop the NH Statehouse. The first floor houses the Historical Society’s Library, which is open by appointment, as well as a small assortment of books for sale of NH books for all ages.
The major gallery is on the second floor and houses artifacts, furniture, portraits and memorabilia of NH ‘s history, which is well-displayed and described. A staff member told us there are plans underway to open another second floor gallery to display more of the historical society’s collections which are now stored in another building on Main St. That building presently contains an original Concord Coach, which they hope to display in the Park St. building. Another portrait gallery of NH notables can been seen in the first floor auditorium.
Since 2023 is the 200th anniversary of the NH Historical Society, they have many special events planned for this year. You can view the Programs and Events schedule on their website, NHhistory.org.
All of us enjoyed Kim Chandler’s covered bridge slideshow talk, and it was well-attended. A number of people in the audience have visited all the remaining NH covered bridges, of which 58 have official numbers from the state of NH. There are 3 “boxed pony bridges” and nine other bridges without numbers, for a total of 70. Most bridges were built from 1829 through the 20th century, but other bridges have been built as recently as the last 20 years. It was a most informative event and motivates us to get
out and about the state with Kim’s book to view as many of these Granite State treasures as we can.