Exeter History Minutes

In each episode of this monthly video series, curator Barbara Rimkunas explores a fascinating aspect of Exeter, New Hampshire's history.

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What do you do with a church when it's too small for the congregation? Well, you move the people and transform the building into something else. How about an armory? (Really?!) How about a theater? How about all of the above (though not all at once)?
Slavery was a "thing" in 18th century New Hampshire. Exeter has a number of interesting stories of people born into slavery - and their free black counterparts - in the early years of our history. In this episode, Barbara explores the story of Jude Hall, who, though born a slave, fought in the American Revolution and became a respected Exeter citizen.
What is that little brick building across the river from Swasey Parkway? What IS a powder house? In this episode, Barbara answers these questions and details some of the difficulties and triumphs in caring for this unique structure. This Exeter History Minute is generously sponsored by Foy Insurance, www.foyinsurance.com.
Have you ever wondered how Exeter's town seal came to feature a fish? With a gorgeous "bandstand" created by a famous architect, why settle on a fish? In this episode, Barbara explores this question and the solitary beginnings of the town's seal. This Exeter History Minute is generously sponsored by Phillips Exeter Academy, www.exeter.edu.
These days we are bombarded with national "news" - on TV, social media, podcasts, the worldwide web, the radio and in print newspapers - and it's coming at us 24/7. One hundred years ago, newspapers were the primary source of political news, and most New Hampshire residents relied on one source - the reporting of Mira Richards (though they may not have known it).
In the early 21st century, parents are often heard lamenting the fact that their kids don't read enough. How do we get them to read? Why don't they like fiction? It is difficult for us to imagine a time when parents did not want their children to read Y-A fiction available at the local independent bookstore.
Amos Tuck was one of Exeter's most notable citizens. Tuck was a Dartmouth-trained lawyer, a member of Congress, a colleague and friend of Abraham Lincoln, and a founder of the Republican Party. Or was he? In this Exeter History Minute, Barbara explores the life and politics of Amos Tuck, including his whereabouts just days before a very important secret meeting.
Did you know that the artist who sculpted our 16th President for the national memorial was born in Exeter? Even though he only lived in town for the first ten years of his life, Daniel Chester French never forgot his hometown.

In our fourth episode of "Hey, what is that thing", Barbara examines an odd pair of wooden bat-like objects, and much, much more!

Bicycles have moved Exonians around town for a century and a half. Their invention created opportunities for greater independence for women and more affordable transportation for the working class. In this episode, Barbara explores the development of the long-standing tradition of bike-riding in Exeter.
In the late 19th century, Alice Chesley taught school and then worked in Exeter's probate office. In her 30s, she decided to study medicine, eventually becoming Exeter's first female doctor. In this episode, Barbara examines the twists and turns in Dr. Chesley's life, including her journey from teacher to physician.

In the dark early morning hours of September 3rd, 1965, several people – including two police officers – saw unexplained red lights over and around Exeter. This would come to be known as the "incident at Exeter." For the 50th anniversary of the "incident", Barbara explores this strange occurrence.

In February of 1860, Abraham Lincoln stepped off the train in Exeter, New Hampshire, to visit his son, a student at Phillips Exeter Academy. Lincoln's trip east became a turning point in his life and career; just three months later, he was the Republican nominee for president.
In 1929, a town philanthropist offered to create a beautiful parkway on the site of the town dump; a little more than two years later, the spot was transformed into a community gathering place. In the third episode of the Exeter History Minute Ambrose Swasey trilogy, Barbara tells the story of Swasey and our permanent "beauty spot," the Swasey Parkway.

The Swasey Pavilion – or the Exeter Bandstand, as it is commonly known – is more than just a place for the band to play. It's a work of art! Built in the summer of 1916, the bandstand was designed by Henry Bacon – the architect of the Lincoln Memorial – and gifted to the town by industrialist Ambrose Swasey.

In a re-make of our fourth Exeter History Minute, we explore the history of secondary education in Exeter. Why does Exeter have both Phillips Exeter Academy and Exeter High School? What was Robinson Female Seminary? Was the Seminary the same as Exeter Female Academy?

We have produced over seventy Exeter History Minutes. To see more episodes, visit our YouTube Channel.

The Exeter History Minutes are written and presented by curator Barbara Rimkunas and produced by program manager Laura Martin.