Strawbery Banke  is just the beginning of historic properties on view in Portsmouth ; if house museums are your thing, you could easily spend a week marveling at the variety and quality of those preserved here. The Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce (500 Market St., 603/436-3988, www.portsmouthchamber.org ) has made it easy by creating an informative walking tour arranged in three easy loops leaving from Market Square downtown. Guides to the route can be purchased from the information booth in the square for $3.
Several of the buildings on the tour route offer guided tours of their interiors. The Athenaeum (9 Market Sq., 603/431-2538, www.portsmouthathenaeum.org , Tues.–Thurs. and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat., Randall Room exhibition gallery 1–4 p.m. Tues., Thurs., and Sat., free) has housed a private library since 1823, making it one of the oldest in the country. It inhabits a beautiful Federal-style building right on the square.
The Moffat-Ladd House (154 Market St., 603/436-8221, www.moffattladd.org , 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and 1–5 p.m. Sun. mid-June–mid-Oct., $6 adults, $2.50 children) was home to a wealthy merchant in colonial times, and is filled with 150 years of artifacts owned by him and his descendants.
The elaborate Governor John Langdon House and Garden (143 Pleasant St., 603/436-3205, www.historicnewengland.org , 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Fri.–Sun. June–mid-Oct., $6) was owned by a signer of the Constitution and three-term governor of New Hampshire . Now maintained by Historic New England, it has been transformed into a museum exploring the lives of wealthy Portsmouth  merchants.
Historic New England also manages the oldest home in New Hampshire, the 1664 Richard Jackson House (76 Northwest St., 603/436-3205, www.historicnewengland.org , 11 a.m.–4 p.m. first Sat. of the month June–Oct., $5), a simple plank-frame building that stands in marked contrast to its more ostentatious neighbors.
If you only have time to visit one historic house in the city, however, make it the John Paul Jones House (43 Middle St., 603/436-8420, www.portsmouthhistory.org , 11 a.m.–5 p.m. daily June–mid-Oct., $6 adults, free children 12 and under), the 1758 Georgian home where the famous Revolutionary-era privateer John Paul Jones boarded during his time in the city while he waited for his ship of battle to be completed. In addition to exhibits about the famous seaman, the home is headquarters for the Portsmouth Historical Society, and includes exhibits and artifacts relating to the entire history of the city.