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Experts Say Exhibit Not Reconstruction is Best Use of First NH State House
Fragments of First NH State House in computer graphic reconstruction by TMS Architects


No Plans to Rebuild First NH State House (Continued)

“Those additions and subtractions that happened later are interesting,” Muzzey says, “but they don’t relate to the history of the State House and they’re not authentic to that time period. So we never had a building-in-a-box as many people may have thought. It could not be reconstructed as a standing structure that would represent even one-third of the First State House. There had been too many changes to it.”

Since no authentic replica is possible, the team of experts hired by DHR was asked to recommend ways to best use the resource. They studied the physical condition of the artifacts, examined the architecture, created computer graphic simulations, research the heritage tourist market, and looked at budget projections. The DHR shared each phase of the process with the public in a series of hearings and online reports.

Sketch showing one-third of surviving First State House after it was demolished in 1836 in Portsmouth, NHMore than 20 locals attended a lively November 2011 public hearing at Strawbery Banke Museum. Many still expressed interest in seeing the State House rebuilt even after learning that the few surviving timbers could not support a modern building and that, if used, they would not be visible within the new structure. Others suggested creating a building in Concord, creating an interpretive or virtual exhibit, turning the wood into furniture, or holding a bonfire to burn the artifacts. A few in attendance, who had served for years on the city’s Blue Ribbon State House Committee, now defunct, continued to ask whether the balance of the federal planning grant money could be utilized for construction purposes.

By the final hearing at the Discover Portsmouth Center in March 2012, only five members of the public (and no members of the media) attended an elaborate two-hour presentation by a series of DHR experts. Not one of the locals attending was in favor of reconstructing the building. Only four New Hampshire residents responded to an online questionnaire and none favored either a full or partial restoration.


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News about Portsmouth from

Thursday, January 18, 2018 
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