Under Cover Inside Ironsides
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Written by SeacoastNH Archives
310_ironsides_00SeacoastNH.com Presents
Historic Portsmouth #310

Last week we saw the exterior of the USS Constitution when she was "housed over" and turned into a receiving ship while laid up at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from 1882 to 1897. Here is a rare peek under that temporary wooden roof showing the deck of "Old Ironsides" with her cannon still aboard. (Article and photos below)


One of the nation’s original six frigates (1797) Ironsides was first empoyed against the Barbary Pirates by Thomas Jefferson. After her famous battle in the War of 1812 she welcomed aboard such dignitaries as Portsmouth’s Tobias Lear, poet Lord Byron and Pope Pius IX while circumnavigating the globe. USS Constitution was repaired and rebuilt many times in many ports. She was converted from a flagship to a training ship at Portsmouth in 1855, then served from Newport, RI to Annapolis, MD and Philadelphia. In 1865 she clocled a top speed of 13.5 knots while under sail and later carried American exhibits to the Paris Exposition in 1878. After being restored at Boston, Ironsides made her final goodwill tour under tow. After visiting Portsmouth in 1931 Ironsides traveled to 90 ports and welcomed 4.5 million visitors as far away as California. She returned to Charlestown, MA in 1935 where she remains a floating museum today. (Courtesy Strawbery Banke Collection)