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How the Friends Saved the Pearl


New Hampshire's Landmark and Cultural Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) offered the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail a $164,000 matching grant to begin exterior restoration of the Pearl Street Church and to maintain what remains of its historical appearance.

The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) is represented on the Friends of The Pearl Board and offered the Rundlet-May House, its 1807 museum property in Portsmouth's historic district, as the site for the restoration of the Pearl's belfry. This restoration, completed by contractor Aaron Sturgis of Preservation Timber Framing, Inc., took place between May and mid-September 2003. This offered many opportunities educate visitors on the restoration of this particular site, and on the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail in general.

This project not only rebuilt the decayed belfry and improved the building's exterior, but donated a permanent preservation easement, to the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, the leading statewide nonprofit preservation organization.

The Pearl Today

The building was purchased in 2005 by Gary and Cindy Dodds. After adding a mezzanine and completing the renovations, the building is now being rented as a function hall for weddings, receptions, and business meetings.

This building remains a vital piece of Portsmouth's larger social fabric. Now a site on the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, it is listed on the New Hampshire State Register and is pending listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Its preservation sends a message locally and nationally that New England recognizes the significance of African-Americans continuing contributions to the region's history and growth.

CLICK HERE to visit the official Pearl web site


This article originally posted on the Friends of the Pearl web site. Transfered to by request in 2008. (c) PBHT and

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Monday, February 19, 2018 
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