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NH Liberty Pole Guide for Idiots

Liberty Pole (c) by J. Dennis Robinson

You’ve seen that pole in Prescott Park, the one with the eagle and the shield. It’ been there now going on 200 years, but why? Sure it stands for "Liberty" Duh! But who put there and what great rebellion in New Hampshire history does it memorialize?




Three Eagles and Counting

The idiot mentioned in the title is me. Despite decades of passing by the Liberty Pole that stands at Prescott Park, I’m only now coming to put the puzzle pieces together. You’ve likely seen the early photographs of Liberty Bridge on Marcy Street that runs between the park and Strawbery Banke Museum. Well, the only bridge on Marcy (formerly Water Street) is at the bottom of the hill by the fish market. I got it into my head long ago that the Liberty Pole used to be down there by the former mill dam that leads to South Mill Pond. I figured the pole was later moved.

Wrong. As you probably know, where the pole now stands was a tidal inlet called the Cove that ran all the way from the river into what is now Strawbery Banke. It all makes much more sense from the air where one can see how the flat lower half of the park (where the flower beds are) flow into the flat empty field at the museum. The pole stands near where the old "swing" bridge used to be. Originally it was possible to take a small boat into the inlet and, at high tide, further on up to South Mill Pond. But activity at the cove got choked with silt and refuse. Eventually the inlet in the Puddle Dock area was filled in with 25 tons of ash and debris around the start of the 20th century and Liberty Bridge ceased to exist. But the pole stayed.

Prescott Park and Liberty Pole (c) Peter E. Randa;; on


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