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Signage for Historic Places in Rye

   Signage for Historic Places in Rye 

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Rye in 2023, the Rye Heritage Commission (RHC) is looking for volunteers to work on a sub-committee that will propose some historic signs that describe natural area and the built environment in Rye. Many are familiar with the 1930s big sign on Ocean Boulevard just north of Cable Road that identifies the historic Cable House and the trans-Atlantic cable that came ashore in Rye in 1874. That sign was erected as part of the Federal New Deal’s WPA program in the 1930s. Imagine more modest, but equally durable signs in selected locations all over Rye. Portsmouth has a variety of exterior signs describing historic places.

In addition to individual volunteers,RHC will also work with the Historic District Commission, the Conservation commission and the Rye Town Center Committee to get ideas and feedback on our proposal. The signs can be funded in a variety of ways through grants, private funding or tax payer money. As you move about the town, think about places that are deserving of such signs such at Fairhill salt marsh, the largest in Rye, just south of Odiorne Point, or the Drake House apartment building, formerly the Drake House Hotel, 1873-c. 1968 (Ocean Blvd. and South Road) or Trefethen’s Corner (Sagamore at Clark), Madden Realty started as Trefethen’s Store in 1947 and many of the houses near the corner were built by the Trefethen family.

The historic house plaque program gives you a clear view of how such signage can enhance the heritage of a town. The National Registry of Historic Places sign on Town Hall is another example of signage. Larger signs with more information of public and commercial buildings   Photos could also enhance the signs. Signs with photos could also make places that have been demolished or burned down such as the Farragut Hotel and Stoneleigh Manor Hotel and later Stoneleigh College. RHC imagines that some signs will have minimal, larger text in order to be read while driving by, while other signs will have more detail for signs located where people will be standing in front of it.

The following are some of the tasks related to this project: identifying places for signs (RHS has started a list), researching an affordable but durable material for the signs, looking in Portsmouth and beyond for examples of aesthetically pleasing signs, researching funding for the signs, participating in RHC work sessions on the signs, researching the exact location of the signs (public or private land), etc. If you are interested in helping with any of these tasks or others you can think of, please contact RHC member Alex Herlihy at:  alexherlihy@comcast.net or 603 997 6742.

On its 400th anniversary this old town by the sea deserves such landmarks of its rich heritage.

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