I began to appreciate the history of the town's Glen land as I began to study it with my students at Elmhurst School. I was trying to teach research skills, so an oral history project about the school, the Elmhurst Academy and the Glen Manor House was a good start. Through the years each one of my 4th grade library classes researched another layer of Glen History. We interviewed the Camara sisters who grew up on Glen Farm and the students loved their stories. We rearched the Brown House and created a video to help restore it. We even had a "Glen Museum Night" to present all the stages in Glen History that had been researched throughout the years. Even after I retired as Elmhurst Librarian, I worked with students to write a Glen History Trail Guide. The more we knew about the Glen, the more we saw the need of preserving this wonderful piece of land.
In this blog I hope to share with the people of Portsmouth the great history of the Glen land we own as a community. The Glen area of Portsmouth is a uniquely beautiful and historic landscape. Walking through the area is like taking a walk through the farming history of Portsmouth.
- a Wampanoag and Narragansett summer camp ground,
- the home of colonial farmers from the Thomas Cooke family,
- a ferry landing for the Fogland Ferry to Tiverton,
- a Hessian campground during the Revolutionary War,
- a site of water powered mills, and factories,
- a popular picnic site during the 1800’s,
- a home to Yankee farmers like Leonard Brown,
- the heart of gentleman farmer’s HAC Taylor’s Glen Farm,
- the school grounds for Elmhurst Academy of the Sacred Heart and Elmhurst School,
- and now the recreational center for the town of Portsmouth.
A Brief Glen Land History
1649: Thomas Cooke Senior buys land from William Brenton who had the original land grant. The Cooke family held land in this area until 1804. The Cookes gradually sold the land to the south to Giles Slocum.
1720: John Cooke sells part of his land to James Sisson.
1745: Joseph Cundall purchases the land (46 acres) around the brook. Many of the Cundall lands transfer to Judge Samuel Clarke.
1882: HAC Taylor begins to buy the land around the Glen.
1960: Manor house and 43 acres to Elmhurst Academy of the Sacred Heart. Classrooms, chapel and dining hall are added.
1972: Elmhurst Academy closes.
1972: Town of Portsmouth purchases Manor House, Elmhurst Academy and 43 acres for $1,350,000.
1989: Town of Portsmouth purchases 95 additional acres of Glen Farm. Much of the rest of the original Glen Farm land is in private hands.
Through the next few weeks I will be sharing Glen History through blogs. My hope is that town residents will come to realize the value of the Glen to the community. It is our heritage, our playground and our legacy to future generations if we preserve it.