A Portsmouth Cinderella Story?
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Written by SeacoastNH Archives

Brocade slipper 1789 / SeacoastNH.com photoSeacoastNH.com Presents
Historic Portsmouth #414

A nice buzz of response to my Monday’Herald feature on George Washington in Portsmouth reminded me of this photo. I took it back in the 1990s after moving the ancient shoe to a window at the Portsmouth Historical Society in order to catch the light. Legend says that it was worn by a young girl who rode through the streets of Portsmouth in a carriage with President Washington in 1789 during his four-day visit to the city. (Continued below)


Washington remains such a powerful figure in American history that even a slipper that was in his godlike presence intrigues us to this day. It belonged to Sally Gerrish (nee Brewster) whose father ran Brewster’s Tavern where Washington slept during his visit. The well-worn eighteenth century brocaded shoe is “resting” in storage and not currently on display, according to museum curator Sandra Rux. (A similar item is included in the fashion exhibit running at StrawberyBankeMuseum.) Did Miss Brewster really wear this magical slipper to the ball at the Assembly Hall downtown where she sat beside President Washington?  “I don’t have any reason to doubt it at all,” Sandra says. The item passed on to Sally’s grandson Samuel Gerrish, according to museum records. It was gifted in the early 20th century along with a Bolten cotton bedspread or coverlet that Washington reportedly slept under while at Brewster’s Tavern. Sally is to have given one precious shoe to each of her precious daughters. But this story has no midnight plot twist. According to Washington’s journal, after admiring the “handsome” women of Portsmouth, he returned to his room at the nearby tavern at 9 pm.  (Photo by J. Dennis Robinson)

MORE ABOUT George Washington in Portsmouth

Sally Brewster's Brocade slipper worn with George Washington in 1789 / SeacoastNH.com photo

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