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More Star Island Discoveries

1853 large US penny
It looks more valuable than it is. This is just a penny, found while gardening at the Isles of Shoals this summer. But every discovery, as we see it, unlocks a treasure trove of nostalgia. Island correspondent Linda Anderle offers another installment of exclusive on-the-scene photos from recent renovations in and around the historic Oceanic Hotel. 

 SEE ALSO: Treasures from Star Island


Metal Bar discovered 2005 /

The Bar in Gosport House

No, not that kind of bar. This is a steel bar found under the floorboards during renovations at the Gosport House in the summer of 2005. We don’t know exactly what it was for – yet. But some have speculated that this sturdy item was used to help raise the building and move it to its current position. The Gosport House was originally run by Origin Caswell, a member of a prominent Star Island family. When the original Oceanic Hotel burned soon after it was built in 1875, earlier buildings were recycled to create a quick new hotel that survives today. The Gosport House with the Atlantic House (run by brother Lemuel) were raised and moved a short distance. This item may have helped in that process. Other ideas? Email us. (click for more pix)


Finding an old coin

Good Luck Penny

Find a penny, have good luck all day. That may be especially true when you find a large US cent dated before the Civil War. Somebody sorely missed this 1853 penny, since back in those days, many of the fishing families at Gosport, NH were desperately poor. With any luck the penny was lost by one of the early visiting tourists like Nathaniel Hawthorne who visited in the year before. Staffer Laurence Saunders found the coin and displays it proudly. To discourage a horde of treasure hunters with metal detectors, we are not showing you exactly where the penny was found. There is a rumor that gold coins were once found on the Shoals and Sam Haley reportedly discovered two silver bars. But with all the tales of treasure we hae yet been unable to authenticate any money found on the islands -- excpet for this penny. (Gosport Chapel )


Gosport Chapel atticMessage in the Chapel Attic

Once torn down for firewood by the poor Star Islanders, the Gosport Chapel has survived amazingly well despite brutal weather. The latest renovations uncovered a message in the rafters from Uncle Oscar that reads: "This side of roof blown of (sic) in the great November gale of 1898, Repiared in July 8th 1899 by Oscar Laighton."

According to photographer Linda Anderle, the roof is merely being replaced with cedar shingles that should last as long as Uncle Oscar -- 100 years. Bob Frye's guys are doing it, she says. The inside was cleaned of soot and repainted this season by Dave and Patty Boynton's volunteer paint crew. It is quite bright in there now, Linda says, when the candles are hanging. A number of 'soft' plaster spots were removed and redone and a bit of masonary work at the door also. (click for more pix)


Star Island TUrnstile 2005The New Turnstile

It seems a funny concept. In the middle of Star Island stands the turnstile, allowing one visitor through at a time like in any city subway station. But on the other side, instead of a subway, is the wild end of the island with low lying bushes, tons of poison ivy, and a series of graves, tombs and anceint nineteenth century monuments. The turnstile was likely designed to keep animals out rather than let people in during the days when sheep, goats and cows were raised as food for hundreds of hotel guests.

The turnstile has seen a number of repairs. This year it was replaced. The wider turnstile is based on early photos and sits between the renovated mortarless stone wall built in recent years by Pelicans under the direction of Dan Snow. Initially the wall may have gone from one side of the island to the other and there is talk of expanding it again. The new turnstile was hand-crafted by Will Fielding of locust wood with old fashioned tools and pegs. A model of it was presented to outgoing Star Island Corp directors Paul and Lisa Jennings. (Click for more pix)


Chalky eightThe Date in the Wall

This series of photos began in the spring during the work on the Gossport House. Last year opening a wall revealed a load of junky treasure. This year there was a single scrawled date – 1868 – with indecipherable initials. This would have been before the arrival of John Poore who bought up most of the land in the center of the island to build his hotel in competition with the Laightons on Appledore. Poore built his Oceanic Hotel in 1873 and after the fire, purchased the two surviving hotels owned by the Caswell brothers. Eventually the Laightons bought the Oceanic from Poore and held a virtual tourist monopoly at the Isles of Shoals. (click for more pix)

Photos and text copyright (c) 2005 by Linda Anderle and All rights reserved.

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