Looking north at Foss Beach from Ragged Neck

Exploring the history of Rye, NH with Town Historian, Alex Herlihy

Courtesy of Rye Historical Society

Photo Above: Blake Rand’s store in Rye Center, hard on the corner of Washington and Lang Roads. Entrance to store was through the end door facing Washington and there was a long candy counter on the left, which must have been a treat for nearby Rye School students.

In this photo, long time selectman Newall Mardens (d. 1952) is visiting Blake (d. 1949), who was town clerk for over fifty years.  Together they pretty much ran the town for the first half of the 1900s, fueled by Blake’s cider.This historic photo is one of many in the Rye Historical Society collection by town photographer A. R. H Foss (d. 1935). They may be be viewed on the society’s web site – www.ryenhhistoricalsociety.org. Foss used the glass plate process and a distinct crack in the glass can be seen in this iconic photo taken while standing in front of Parsons’ barn across Washington Road, dismantled and moved in the 1960s.

The most important part of this website can be found here at the topics tab, where you can find over 80 short narratives on Rye’s past

The purpose of this web site is to share information and ideas about Rye history that I have researched and written in my role as town historian and as author of a forthcoming new book on the town’s history entitled: Rye, New Hampshire: A Town at the Crossroads of American History. See Tab for information about the book.

The major source of information on this site are over eighty Rye history topics (short narratives) developed in my work with Rye Junior High students during the 2022-2023 school year. Much of that material was obtained from the draft of my new book. To get the big picture of our past, there is also a separate tab of several short versions of Rye history, including a five-page time line.

If it were not for my long affiliation with the Rye Historical Society (RHS) established in 1976 and the Town Museum that opened in 2002, I would not be the town historian, a title bestowed on me by RHS in 2022. It is a humbling title because as with any interest, the more I learn, the more I realize what I  don’t know. I am also aware that there are several others in town with in depth knowledge of Rye’s past such as Roger Philbrick on the 1900s. I owe much to all those I have worked with at RHS and all those who have visited the museum and shared their stories.

This web site also gives readers a direct contact with me so they can contribute what they know, either by adding to existing topics or creating new ones. Rye history is rich in its natural and human history, the history of fishing, farming, and being a summer resort and the stories of those who have contributed to building and preserving Rye.

Emma Foss, died 1978

Courtesy of Rye Historical Society

Our father took us in the evening to the Farragut hotel and as we sat outside, through the long windows and open doors we watched beautifully gowned ladies and gentlemen dancing. And we listened to the music which was the biggest thrill of all.

Emma Foss, born in 1882, describing her childhood in Rye. Pictures below show Farragut Hotel
Farragut Hotel, Rye Beach, 1882 – 1975

Courtesy of Rye Historical Society

July, 1901 – a bright meteor fell last night; took a walk to the south part of the town to see some of my last spring’s apple grafting, good part of it living; dug grave for Mr. Goodwin to bury his mother who died at 87; July 11, 64 above, cloudy and hot wind variable, shower of rainfall still continues at two o’clock, Do good.” (George Lang died the next day, July 12, 1901).

From the diary of George Lang, 1871-1901
Diarist, George Lang

Courtesy of Rye Historical Society

Shut that damn tape recorder off and I will tell you some real Rye history!

Herb Drake, 2007
Herbie Drake on his lobster boat, The Shelldrake, in the 1960’s

Courtesy of Rye Historical Society

The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and

William Faulkner

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