Wednesday, April 19, 2023
5:30 p.m.
Shaw Research Library


Proprietor Sam Reid will give a talk entitled The Life, Near-Death, and Revival of Wood Island Station. The Wood Island Life Saving Station sits on a small island next to the Maine/New Hampshire border where the Piscataqua River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Built in 1908 and decommissioned in 1948, it housed the brave men, called “surfmen” or “storm warriors,” who rowed out to save mariners in distress. Hundreds of rescues were performed and hundreds of lives were saved. The station’s ownership shifted from the federal government to the Town of Kittery in 1973, but little maintenance was undertaken. In 2011, to avert the planned demolition of the then-derelict and rotting structure, the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association (WILSSA) was formed to restore this National Register of Historic Places building to its former glory.

Sam Reid has been the President of WILSSA since its founding. His background is in public service, as he has worked for three Governors and President George W. Bush. In the past he has successfully tackled other challenging historic preservation projects, such as the $80 million Masonic Temple restoration in Providence, RI that is now a Marriott Renaissance hotel. He loves wooden boats. His favorite part of the Wood Island restoration project has been the many people he has met and helped bring together. Recently he has been researching the life saving stations of New Hampshire’s coast including New Castle, Rye, Hampton and Wallis Sands. He lives in Kittery Point and is married with two adult children, a dog named Dennis and two hives of honey bees.

The lecture series continues to celebrate our city’s significant anniversaries in Portsmouth’s quadricentennial year. This year, the talks shine a light on Portsmouth’s commerce over 400 years, the historic interiors of those who lived here, and finally, the impact of climate change as evidenced at Strawbery Banke.

Each program begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Shaw Research Library of the Portsmouth Athenaeum at 9 Market Square in Portsmouth, NH (unless otherwise noted). Reservations for each program are required as seating is limited. Please call (603) 431-2538 to reserve. If unable to keep a reservation, please call again to release the seat for someone else. If you are interested in attending virtually, here is the Zoom link:

Attendance at programs is free for Athenaeum Proprietors, Subscribers and Friends. Guests and members of the public are welcome to attend the entire series by becoming a Friend of the Athenaeum for as little as $25 per year, payable at the door. Admission to an individual program is $10.

Every presenter in this year’s lecture series is a Proprietor of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, suggesting the breadth of knowledge and interest in its dissemination that characterizes Athenaeum members. Each lecturer looks forward to engaging our audience with their knowledge.

Image: Courtesy photo.

Written by Irene Bush

For the complete 2023 Lecture Series, click the button.

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