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Treasure in the Walls at Star Island

early Oceanic pitcher
Exclusive photos of 1880-era stuff found in the walls of the historic Oceanic Hotel at Star Island, New Hampshire in May 2004. All pictures by Linda Anderle.

One man's treasure is
another man's .. you know
how it goes



SEE: Even More Star Island Discoveries

It may have been junk in 1881, but the artifacts discovered this week in the walls of the Oceanic Hotel are treasures today. Workers building a new stairway in the Victorian hotel on the Isles of Shoals found a candle holder, a chamber pot lid, a shoe, a number of bottles, lots of newspapers, a broken clay pipe, even a very old can of peaches with the label intact.

The rare burst of construction at the historic Star Island hotel will allow visitors a second, safer exit from the old wooden hotel. This is a major improvement over the former backup fire exit that would lead guests across the flat rooftops.

Most impressive among the items was a 1870s era pitcher imprinted with the word Oceanic. The chipped pitcher was filled with new square nails and had apparently been closed up in the wall.

A cluster of newspapers from across the USA are dated from summer 1881 to summer 1883, during the "golden era" of the Shoals. As many as 500 guests a night were staying at the Appledore Hotel on an island just across Gosport Harbor. Poet Celia Thaxter’s literary salon was in full swing. Her two brothers, Oscar and Cedric, were also running the Oceanic which they had purchased from former competitor John Poore who built it in 1874.

The original Oceanic burned, and the current hotel is made up of a cluster of buildings gathered along a wooden walkway. The hotel, owned by the Star Island Corp. of Portsmouth, has been offering week-long summer conferences for more than a century here. The new renovation is part of the group’'s ongoing effort to improve the facilities and widen its clientele to new summer guests.

Linda Anderle, who photographed the finds, says, "All of the items will be cleaned, catalogued and placed into the Vaughn Cottage Museum here on Star Island. This is the museum that houses many items of Celia Thaxter and the Laighton family, as well as the fishing and hotel and conference eras of this island. I feel certain a special display will be put together with many of these items for this season's conferees and our day visitors from the mainland."

All photographs by Linda Anderle.

Contact the Star Island Coporation

Oceanic Hotel

decorative clay pipe bowl

Laighton Brothers letterhead

Bottles and chamber pot lid

Spafford Peaches

Family Story Paper

new stairway shaft

All photos by Linda Anderle. Courtesy Star Island Corporation.
SEE: A tour inside the Oceanic Hotel

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