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HIGHLIGHTS The Woodman Institute

  • House:
    Built 1818, 3-story brick residence
  • Collections:
    Rocks & minerals Indian artifacts, mammals & marine life, birds & butterflies, shells, snakes & turtles, dolls, military museum, maps & documents
  • Open:
    Wednesday to Sunday, except holidays, 12:30-4:30 pm Saturdays & Sundays only December through January Closed February 1 through March 31

    Annie Woodman Read about Damm Garrison

    On January 7, 1915 Annie Woodman "passed to a higher life" according to a report in the local newspaper. Five days later, Dover citizens were surprised to learn that she had bequeathed an astonishing $100,000 for the creation of an institute to promote local education in science, history and the arts.

    The good fortune was just beginning. At the same time the former Christie brick mansion on Central street became available as did the home of the famous NH abolitionist Senator John P. Hale next door. The first Woodman trustees of the Institute purchased the adjoining brick buildings. When a local resident donated the structure of the oldest surviving garrison (1675) in the region, the building was moved between the two properties and a protective shelter put over the old colonial structure forming a complete museum campus.

    The opening of the Woodman on July 26, 1916 was a momentous day for the Garrison which found itself host to a world-class little museum. One speaker referred to Dover as "almost the oldest city in America." The redesigned home of the town's most famous lawyer Daniel Christie had become a showplace for over 800 relics of colonial history and natural history.

    Almost unchanged to this day, the Woodman Institute is often called "a museum within a museum" and remains one of the state's best, but least known scientific treasures. The first floor contains an extensive collections of minerals, plus exhibits of mammals, shells, fish and reptiles, a moose, a polar bear, alligator and hippopotamus. Here visitors also find a display of Native American items, contemporary and prehistoric.

    The second floor includes a large exhibit of birds, moths and butterflies in their original turn-of-the-century display cases. There is a collection of dolls, many pictures, maps and books, posters and more. The top floor houses the War Memorial Museum. Among the many items of interest are one of the ten known "Napoleon" Civil War canons complete with its original caisson. Another well known item is the saddle used by President Abraham Lincoln while reviewing the troops just prior to his assassination. Lincoln was a frequent visitor to the Seacoast NH area.

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    snowy owl Use the online form below to apply for membership and will send your statement to you via postal mail. You may also print this form and send checks directly to the address below.

    Select your level for these
    membership benefits:
    PO Box 146
    Dover, NH 03821-0146

    The Woodman House building is nearly 200 years old, and the Institute was formed in 1916. And the trust has not kept pace with the repairs needed. Exterior masonry, roofs, window glazing and electrical work are just a few of the areas in immediate need of repair. You can help keep these treasures alive by becoming a member today.


    I do not wish to join at the moment, but please send more information.

    Call me. I want to make a special contribution to help with renovation of the Woodman Institute, Damm Garrison (1675) and/or The Hale House.

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    Content © 1999 Woodman Institute
    Design © 1999
    (page design and original content)
    Photos © 1999 Thom Hindle

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