Douglas Armsden Photograph Project

Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, NH, 1950s.

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Invasion of Iwo Jima, February 1945

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Armsden Business Card

Saco River Valley, North Conway, NH, c. 1960

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Rosamond Thaxter's house, Cutts Island, Kittery, Maine, c.1950

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

On set of "Whistle at Eaton Falls" in Dover, NH, 1951

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Douglas Armsden in his studio at 240 Whipple Road, Kittery, Maine, c. 1940s.

Between 2018 & 2021, the Athenaeum received the photograph collection of prolific photographer Douglas J. Armsden (1918-2009). Born in England and raised in upstate New York,  Armsden and his family settled in Kittery Point, Maine.  Armsden’s work captured the essence of the mid-20th century Seacoast region of New England and beyond. His work included wedding photography, family portraits, early documentation of historic houses, commercial and scenic images of Maine and New Hampshire, and editorial work for local newspapers and magazines such as New Hampshire Profile and Down East.

This collection also includes Armsden’s years of service in World War II documenting the Pacific Theater, and his daily life with his wife, Alice Decatur, and their three daughters as well as family and friends in their “little piece of heaven” along Fernald Cove in Kittery Point.

The photographic images in the collection include print photographs, color transparencies, 35 mm film, and both medium- and large-format negatives.

When cataloged, this single collection will double the Athenaeum’s entire photographic collection!

In 2018, the archival supplies for the collection were estimated to cost over $6,500.  We received generous donations from members of the Athenaeum, the local community, and Seacoast businesses. In 2019, we were awarded a $1,500 grant from the Rosamond Thaxter Foundation, and on Sept. 8, 2020, the Athenaeum held a Bake Benefit at the Portsmouth Flatbread Company. For every pizza sold between 5 and 9 p.m., a portion of the proceeds went towards purchasing archival supplies. Combining all of these efforts, the Athenaeum raised the necessary funds needed to preserve the initial Armsden donation. Thank you!

While we met our goals for the 2018-2019 material, subsequent Armsden material was donated in late 2020 and 2021. We need an additional $2,500 for archival supplies.

If you would like to contribute to preserving this collection, click on the “Armsden Donate” button to go to PayPal. Remember, you don’t have to be a PayPal member to use PayPal. You can donate as a guest.

If you would prefer to pay by check, please make it out to to the Portsmouth Athenaeum with “Armsden” in the memo line and mail it to “Portsmouth Athenaeum, P.O. Box 366, Portsmouth, NH 03802.”

Thank you for your support!

Preserve Local History

To contribute to purchasing archival supplies for this collection, click on the button below.

Does Armsden Sound Familiar?

You may have come across Armsden’s photographs already in our collection. During his lifetime, Armsden donated a collection of negatives (P15 Armsden Photograph Collection). These invaluable historic images depict mid-20th century Portsmouth and other Seacoast locales. While there are duplicates in both collections, the images in P15 are an example of what the new complete Armsden collection will offer.

The existing P15 collection will also be reprocessed.  Click here to view the P15 collection.



Athenaeum Raising Money for Armsden Photographic Collection

By James Smith featured in the Portsmouth Athenaeum Newsletter, Spring 2019.

At The Athenaeum: Transcribe-a-thon attracts history lovers from all over the Seacoast

By Sherry Wood featured in the Portsmouth Herald / on Dec. 11, 2019.

Putting Together the Puzzle of Photographer Douglas Armsden

By Sherry Wood featured in the Portsmouth Athenaeum Newsletter, Fall 2020.

At the Athenaeum: Each image is a time machine

By Sherry Wood featured in the Portsmouth Herald / on Oct. 11, 2020.


A perfect day to "Hit the Decks" and kick off the summer season on the Seacoast.☀️🚢💃🍷🍻

We are hitting the history deck with this early 1980s view of patrons enjoying drinks on the Riversmere deck at 37 Bow Street in Portsmouth.

What a view with the iconic tugs from Moran Towing and two of the three bridges in the background.😍

We can't help but check out those captain's chairs. #memoriesunlocked

One of the patrons is a member of the United States Air Force, and he was most likely stationed at the nearby Pease Air Force Base, which closed in 1991.

We can date the photograph to no later than 1984 when the Marie Moran tug was sold out of the area.

We'd love to know more about Riversmere. We know the restaurant name was registered in 1970 as Tumbledowns at Riversmere and again in 1979 under the name Whaleback Inn. The restaurant was listed in the early 1980s directories. By the early 1990s, this address was known as Pocos Bow Street Cantina / Poco Diablos, which had been next door at 45 Bow since 1983. After over three decades, Pocos closed last year, and soon Rio Tequila Cantina will open on this site.

The color transparency was captured by commercial photographer Douglas Armsden (1918-2009) of Kittery Point, Maine. Link in bio to find out more about the Armsden Photo Project.

[Courtesy of the Douglas Armsden Collection, Douglas Armsden Transparencies, P0061_00031]

Restaurants, shops, hotels, and other attractions participate in "Hit the Decks," and you can find special deals for this annual event at

Cheers to the new season!🍻

#riversmere #BowStreet #remembertheeighties #HitTheDecksPortsmouth #GoPortsmouthNH #tugboats #PiscataquaRiver #DouglasArmsden #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #nh #Maine #Seacoast❤

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Happy Thanksgiving!🦃

Here is one of several photos of a Thanksgiving party hosted by the Smith family at the Rockingham Hotel on State Street in Portsmouth, c. 1960s.

Margaret Tasher Smith (1907-1995) is seen holding her plate while an unidentified chef carves into the turkey. Margaret and her husband James Barker Smith operated the Wentworth-by-the-Sea Hotel in New Castle from 1946 until 1980. From all appearances, the Smiths loved a themed party, and this feast was no exception. Other photos include a female bartender dressed as a Pilgrim serving drinks.🥂

[Photo by Douglas Armsden, Wentworth-by-the-Sea Photograph Collection, P24.599]

Margaret originally gave the hotel's records (including the photograph collection) to the Henley Corporation, the new hotel owners, believing that the collection should stay within the hotel. When the hotel operations declined and the building was threatened with demolition, the material was given to the Friends of the Wentworth, an organization dedicated to preserving the Wentworth-by-the Sea. In 1994, the Friends brought the collection to the Athenaeum, which we are thankful.🙏

#happythanksgiving #rockingamhotel #WentworthbytheSea #MargaretTasherSmith #DouglasArmsden #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #NH #Maine #Seacoast❤

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Harvesting up another image for #TransparencyTuesday 🦀🍎

Pictured are a group of children gathering crab apples in the front yard of the Armsden residence on Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point, Maine. Undated.

The two girls are the daughters of Douglas (the photographer) and Alice Decatur Armsden. On the left is Gay and on the right is Catherine. In the foreground, the two boys are neighbors Larry Forbes, left, and Tommy Struzenski, right.

[Douglas Armsden Transparencies, P0061_00501]

You can learn more about the Armsden Photograph Project on our website. Link in bio.

#kitterypointmaine #harvest #crabapples #DouglasArmsden
#collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #Maine #Seacoast❤

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An autumn view of the oldest surviving wood-frame house in New Hampshire.🍂 #TransparencyTuesday

Built circa 1664, the Richard Jackson House still stands on Northwest Street along the north shore (also known historically as the Christian Shore) of the North Mill Pond in Portsmouth.

For seven generations, the building remained in the Jackson family until 1924 when the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as @historicnewengland) purchased the property. Today, the historic house museum is opened seasonally.

The undated image was taken by local commercial photographer Douglas Armsden (1918-2009). You can learn more about the Armsden Project on our website. Link in bio.

[Douglas Armsden Transparencies, P0061_00185]

#RichardJacksonHouse #JacksonHouse #historicnewengland #DouglasArmsden #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #NH #Maine #Seacoast❤

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Have you picked out your pumpkins yet? 🎃🍂🍁 #TransparencyTuesday

Here an older man carves into a pumpkin while a young boy, possibly his grandson, looks on. Both are unidentified, but they may be related to the Armsden family of Kittery Point, Maine, and the image may have been taken in the Kittery vicinity, c. 1950.

UPDATE: A similar image (though printed in b/w) was used as the cover of Shoreliner magazine in October 1951. The photo caption was the following:

"October means just one thing to a small boy... Halloween! And Halloween means, of course, jack-o-lanterns. Not every small boy is as fortunate as the tow-headed lad in our picture in having a willing friend, wise in the ways of carving pumpkin heads, to wield the jackknife. Percy Amee, well known resident of Kittery Point, Me., is carving the orange pumpkin for his young neighbor, John Rice, in this appealing photo by Douglas Armsden."

James Percy Amee (1871-1960) was a lifelong resident of Kittery Point and worked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as a marine engineer until he retired in 1937. He and his wife, Grace Hoyt, raised their family on their farm on Chauncey Creek Road where this photo was taken.

Local commercial photographer Douglas Armsden (1918-2009) lived near Mr. Amee. You can learn more about our ongoing project to process the Armsden collection, an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 images, by clicking on the link in our bio.

[Douglas Armsden Transparencies, P0061_00500.]

Thank you to @bevdan48 for the update!🙏

#jackolantern #pumpkins #ameefamily #ricefamily #Shoreliner #Halloween #DouglasArmsden #kitterypointmaine #chaunceycreek #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #nh #Maine #seacoast❤

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