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Photo of Sherburne House, after restoration, 1998.
Sherburne House, after restoration, 1998. It was built in 1695 and is the oldest building on the museum site.

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Strawbery Banke
A Local Legacy

Have you ever been in a house that's older than the United States? If you go to Strawbery Banke, a historic area in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, you can see this 300-year-old house plus a lot of other very old buildings. Strawbery Banke is an outdoor museum of historic buildings. They are being preserved because they help us learn how people lived hundreds of years ago.

One of the buildings in Strawbery Banke is Sherburne House, which was built in 1695 by Captain John Sherburne. The architecture of the house (the way it's built) tells us that the early European settlers of Portsmouth were English. On the ceiling in one of the rooms are brightly colored spots that had been sponge-painted. The spots make the room look more cheerful. We tend to think of the early settlers as being very serious. Perhaps this simple decoration -- bright ceiling spots - lets us see them as more good-natured than we thought and, maybe, even more like ourselves.

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