Date Of Visit: June 16, 2017
Location:40 Park Avenue, Hampton, NH (about 1 hour north of Boston, MA and 45 minutes east of Manchester, NH)
Hours: Spring / Summer / Fall Museum Hours
Sunday, Wednesday, Friday
1 to 4pm
Winter Museum Hours
January, February, and March
1 to 4pm
Sunday by appointment
Cost: Free but donations are appreciated
Parking: There is parking available at the side entrance of the building. There is also additional parking behind the building.
Handicapped Accessible: Yes (thanks to Ryan Lamers)
Highlights: historical artifacts, memorials
Website: Tuck Museum Complex
Who knew Hampton had so much history? That is what many visitors think when they leave the Tuck Museum in Hampton, NH.
But, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that so much history. After all, it is one of the oldest settled areas of New Hampshire having been settled in 1638.
It’s also surprising that a small museum can have so much historical items and stories. Upon entering the museum, you will most likely notice some of the historical articles from many years ago. One of the main features is are the items from the defunct railway that ran to Hampton.
There are also two mannequins dressed in old military clothing from an earlier era. This is a preview of an exhibit I will discuss later in this post.
The Tuck Museum is considered a “museum complex” because it has several structures and memorials on its land. Guided tours are given to all of these buildings by the very knowledgeable staff.
The first place our guide took us to was the fire fighter building which had older firefighting equipment and vehicles. It’s hard to believe , but true, that some of these vehicles were moved by humans, not horses, in the early days of the fire department in Hampton. It is fitting since the fire department still remains the same – physically go and save lives, despite all of the technological advancements they have made. It still boils down to the one constant – the brave men and women who work in that profession everyday.
You may notice the name Winnacunnet on the fire engine pictured above. That used to be the name of Hampton (more specifically it was called Plantation of Winnacunnet) because of the pine trees in the area (Winnacunnet translates to “beautiful place of pines”). A high school and street in the Hampton area still bear this name.
The next building we went to on the property of the Tuck Museum complex was the barn which contained many of the machines, tools and equipment the people used to farm the land and conduct the everyday chores of the settlers of Hampton. Everything from fishing equipment, agricultural devices to a shoe cobbler’s counter were housed in this barn. Each of these devices has a story and history behind it.
It would take too long and take up too much space to explain each one. But, if you do go on the tour at the museum the tour guide will keep you entertained with various anecdotes and fun facts about these machines and tools. One fun fact you can impress your friends and hot dates with at dinner parties is that when cobblers made shoes there was only one shape to them so you could wear any shoe on any foot. I was joking – please don’t tell anyone that on a date.
There is also a special military exhibit dedicated to the people connected to Hampton, NH. Included in this exhibit are letters from people serving that have been donated on a temporary basis from family and friends of those who served abroad during wartime. One of the storiees that stood out to me from my visit to this memorial was the story of Hampton residentof Lt. Rita Palmer and the Angels of Bataan.
The final room of the museum (I told you it was surprisingly big) was a room with household items and some of the luxuries of the early settlers of the area.
The framed work of art pictured above was made of human hair (does that make it a bona-fide “hair loom”?).
There are also some replicas of beach houses that used to dot the landscape of the Hampton area on the grounds. Since it was raining outside, I was unable to get to them without getting my camera equipment wet, unfortunately.
Hampton has a rather obscure dark side in the form of a witch, Eunice “Goody” Cole. Eunice Cole was the only woman convicted of witchcraft in Hampton, NH (although many others have been casually accused of being one I am sure).
After being released from indentured servitude, her husband and she settled in Mount Wollaston (now Quincy, MA) and they eventually made their way to Hampton, NH. Since they did not have children (they were both beyond child bearing age) and some other characteristics of her that were considered unusual at the time, she must have been a witch. Of course. She was actually accused of witchcraft several times. the first time she was convicted of witchcraft was in 1660. She served 2 years in prison and was sentenced again for a number of years in 1668. She was also found not guilty of witchcraft when she was tried in 1673. And I thought we were litigious these days.
Eventually, Goody Cole was absolved of her accused crime of witchcraft on March 8, 1938. The citizens passed a resolution restoring Eunice “Goody” Cole to her rightful place as a citizen of Hampton. The city went as far as to burn copies of all her court documents, The burned documenst were said to be mixed with soil from her last home and reputed resting place and buried. However, it was actually given to the Tuck Museum.
This brings me to the last few photos of the museum and its grounds. Inside the museum there are some replicas of Goody Cole.
On the grounds of the museum is a memorial without her name or any other marking. In fact, if you did not know the story about Eunice Cole you may just pass by it none the wiser. The marker was erected by Harold Fernald, a teacher and part time police officer from Hampton. The stone is said to be from the location of Eunice Cole’s property.
As an aside, the North Shore paranormal Group and some other paranormal groups have done ghost hunting on the premises with what they considered convincing results that some paranormal activity occurred. The fact the museum is located right across the street from a graveyard, mixed with the Goody Cole history, has added to the theories of paranormal activity. Admittedly, I saw some unusual things during my stay in hampton. But, it was mostly at the beach.
Another memorial on the grounds of Tuck Museum is dedicated to Thorvald, the brother of Viking explorer Leif Erickson and son of Erik the Red. However, this memorial has more of a controversial past as some believe it was just a rock put there by Judge Charles A. lamprey to increase the value of land that he was developing for beach cottages in 1902. Whatever the true story behind the rock, it has become a popular tourist attraction.
The grounds of the museum are well kept and worth strolling by even if you don’t venture into the museum.