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Star Island Hiring Museum Interns for 2016

December 18th, 2015

Star Island Corporation seeks two museum studies interns to fulfill the requirements of our IMLS grant for Thaxter Museum collections during June, July and August, 2016.

The Star Island Conference and Retreat Center on the Isles of Shoals represents moments in the history of New England fundamental to an understanding of our American heritage. This unique island hosts conferences, retreaters, day visitors and researchers who visit and use the Thaxter Museum. The persons hired will learn the fascinating history of Star Island and the Isles of Shoals from its origin as a 1600s fishing village, to its fame as an 1800s resort and its present day role as a conference center.

This is an opportunity for advanced museum studies students to apply their knowledge and skills of “best practices” to collections in need of professional expertise. Advice from a museum conservator will be available by phone, email and in two site visits, and from the Museum Manager, but the two interns will be expected to take primary responsibility for planning and executing the project.

Duties include the following:

  • Physically inventory the artifact and art collections using existing (but perhaps incomplete) PastPerfect database.
  • Ensure that catalogue numbers are written on each artifact.
  • Clean artifacts as needed with a HEPA vacuum or other appropriate method.
  • Organize the collections using archival materials purchased for the project on storage shelves, in boxes, or in the drawers of a powder-coated flat file.
  • Record new storage locations in the PastPerfect database.

Interns who work with the collections will gain organizational and practical skills and experience of collections stewardship and project evaluation practices that will solidify their professional qualifications.

This internship is paid a $2,400 stipend to each intern, and includes room and board while on island in dormitory style housing. Island residency is required 6 days per week with a specific schedule coordinated with the Museum Manager.

Required Experience:

  • Working knowledge of PastPerfect.
  • Currently enrolled in museum management masters program at an accredited university or college.
  • A reference from a museum studies instructor.

Physical demands:

  • Requires standing, stretching, bending, walking, lifting, climbing stairs, and transporting objects and equipment; working at a computer; must be physically and mentally capable of functioning in an environment whose main purpose is that of a retreat and conference center staffed by college-age persons.
  • Living and working in a community setting.
  • Must be able to walk around island with uneven and rocky terrain.

To Apply: Please send a cover letter and resume to email hidden; JavaScript is required by March 31, 2016.

Jeffrey Spoor Wins Star Island Veterans Raffle

December 16th, 2015

Jeffrey Spoor recently won the Star Island Veterans Raffle

On Monday, December 14, Star Island drew Jeffrey Spoor’s name from among over 70 entries in the non-profit’s third annual Veterans Raffle. Spoor, a Navy and Army National Guard veteran, wins a free week-long stay on Star Island during the 2016 summer.

“What veterans give to our community, including Mr. Spoor, can never be truly repaid,” said Star Island CEO Joe Watts. “But we hope our bit of appreciation through this raffle provides a meaningful experience to last a lifetime.”

Now in its third year, the Star Island Veterans Raffle included entries from across the country. Spoor will choose between one of several summer conferences to attend including the International Affairs Conference which focuses on education systems around the world and the various perspectives and cultural differences that influence how people learn here and abroad.

Spoor has visited Star Island and attended the Star Arts and NH Society of Photograph Artists Retreat for many years. He said after learning he won: “The worst part of coming to Star Island is having to leave and go back to the mainland.”

Past winners include Thomas McNaugher of McLean, VA; Brian Morrow of Addison, IL; and Melissa Bailey of San Antonio, TX.

Star Island is one of the Isles of Shoals about an hour’s boat ride off the New Hampshire coast. Since 1897, people have gathered on Star for multi-generational conferences and programs that aim to understand the world as it might ideally be. Consistent with the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, the non-profit Star Island provides a spiritual retreat location where all are welcome.

LCHIP Awards Star Island $100k Grant for Oceanic Hotel

December 15th, 2015


The New Hampshire Land & Community Heritage Investment Program has awarded Star Island’s Oceanic Hotel $100,000 for historic preservation. The funds will go towards replacing siding on the Victorian Era hotel located on the second largest of the Isles of Shoals. The 2016 grant is the largest ever received by Star Island to help preserve the hotel. NH Governor Maggie Hassan presented the awards in Concord on December 15th.

“Star Island is grateful for LCHIP backing this important project,” said Star Island CEO Joe Watts. “This financial support helps us make improvements to the historic hotel so it can withstand severe weather and an ocean environment. Star Island’s Oceanic Hotel is a Seacoast treasure that welcomes thousands of visitors each summer. We are pleased the state shares our view that the Oceanic deserves community support.”

The Oceanic Hotel, recently named to the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance Seven to Save list, was constructed in 1876 by John Poor, President of Stickney Poor Spice Co. It is the largest of 34 buildings on the island, and is the last remaining Grand Hotel in NH that has not been completely renovated.

The preservation work made possible by this grant will focus on restoration including framing repairs, sheathing and rain shield, as well as preservation work on the porch. The total project cost is over $280,000 and is expected to be completed by this summer. LCHIP previously awarded grants in 2010 and 2014 to help with the Oceanic preservation. Those prior grants were instrumental in replacing the hotel roof and restoring the North and East facades.

Star Island is working to raise awareness about the historical importance of the Oceanic, and will be hosting informational talks in early 2016, as well as fundraising for the project. Star Island is a 43-acre island six miles off the coast of NH and Maine. It is owned and operated by the nonprofit Star Island Corporation, which hosts 60+ conferences with a wide variety of themes each year. Tax-deductible donations to the Fund for the Oceanic may be directed to Star Island Corporation, 30 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801. For more information, please contact Pam Smith at email hidden; JavaScript is required. To learn more, please visit


The New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program is an independent state authority that provides matching grants to New Hampshire communities and non-profits to protect and preserve the state’s most important natural, cultural, and historic resources. Its legislatively mandated mission is to ensure the perpetual contribution of these resources to the economy, environment, and the quality of life in New Hampshire. Up until the current grant round, 341 LCHIP grants have helped 143 New Hampshire communities conserve more than 278,000 acres of land and 180 historic structures and sites. The $36 million of state money invested in these projects has leveraged more than $234 million in funds from other sources. LCHIP grants are supported by fees on four documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds in every county of the state. For more information about LCHIP visit or call (603) 224-4113.

Star Island Receives $6k Grant from NEH

December 15th, 2015

NEH Logo

On December 14, Star Island received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to strengthen the care of artifacts in the Celia Thaxter Museum located on Star Island, one of the Isles of Shoals.

This $6,000 grant from the NEH’s Preservation Assistance Grant program will go towards strengthening the facilities and staffing needed to ensure proper care for artifacts in the Celia Thaxter Museum.

The Celia Thaxter Musuem on Star Island currently holds such artifacts as hand painted pottery by poet Celia Thaxter, tool remnants from Native American activity, and hand drawn maps. The museum focuses on three major time periods of the Isles of Shoals: the Gosport Fishing Village, the Grand Hotel Era, and its current use as a religious and educational retreat center.

“Our rich history surrounds everyone visiting Star Island, and we are excited and honored to receive this support from the National Endowment for the Humanities,” said Joe Watts, CEO of the non-profit Star Island Corporation. “These funds will help foster a deeper understanding of our history for visitors.”

“NEH provides support for projects across America that preserve our heritage, promote scholarly discoveries, and make the best of America’s humanities ideas available to all Americans,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “We are proud to announce this latest group of grantees who, through their projects and research, will bring valuable lessons of history and culture to Americans.”

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

Star Island is one of the nine Isles of Shoals located six miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. Home to the historic Oceanic Hotel and a fishing village from the 1600’s, a visit to Star Island is a step back in time. The 43 acre island is owned and operated by the nonprofit Star Island Corp. During the summer months, Star Island welcomes families and individuals to explore Star’s rugged beauty for a day or take part in weekly programs with a variety of themes such as spirituality, world affairs, ecology and the arts. Star Island is an all inclusive vacation retreat where guests are encouraged to unplug and connect with each other and nature.

Thanks for an Awesome #GivingTuesday

December 2nd, 2015

Ally Miner Giving Tuesday

Thank you to everyone who helped support Star Island on #GivingTuesday. We nearly doubled the amount of money raised this #GivingTuesday over last year. Your support means the world to us, and allows us to focus more on 2016.

One highlight of yesterday’s giving included a first time donor. This donor, Ally Miner, worked on Star Island this past summer as the Front Desk Supervisor, and now works in our mainland office. When the younger generation of Shoalers starts participating, we are thrilled and hope the inspiration Ally finds from the Star Island community also inspires others to support this gem of the Isles of Shoals.

Here’s a collection of all of our posts from this year’s #GivingTuesday:

Jack Farrell Giving Tuesday

Adam Shapiro Giving Tuesday

Bruce Parsons Giving Tuesday

Coleman Giving Tuesday

Weisman Giving Tuesday

Joyce Homan Giving Tuesday

A Long, Beautiful Answer to a Short Question

December 1st, 2015

Bruce Parsons Giving Tuesday

About a month ago we reached out to a few folks asking them to help us prepare for #GivingTuesday. The request involved asking for a photo of the person on Star Island, plus a one to two sentence answer to: Why do you give to Star Island? We’re sending out those responses throughout the day on Facebook and Twitter.

One couple, Bruce and Carole Parsons, responded so amazingly in more than two sentences. And we just had to share their thoughts. So while the little image we post on Twitter might give a couples of sentences, here’s what they really wanted to say:

Why do you give to Star Island?

As you know room and board rates do not cover the full expenses to run and maintain Star Island. Its old buildings, constantly being battered by hard weather, need constant maintenance. New regulations and outside agencies regularly have the island make upgrades to its buildings and systems. The Board and Staff have worked very hard to create the façade of the island to be as it looked over 100 years ago. This is not easy, especially while the systems needed to operate it like the new solar fields, wastewater, reverse osmosis, etc are all very current high tech expensive pieces of equipment. I often use the analogy that Star is a like a Model A with a Ferrari Engine.

Most importantly we give to Star because it is our responsibility. We have inherited this place from those before us who also gave and worked so hard to make sure it survived and had a future, the likes of Albert and Edith Doolittle, Dave and Edith Pierson, Harry Lent, Roly Greeley, Warren Witherell, Ruth Twiss, Ruth Coe, Pop Bourne, Dick Soule, Lyman Rutledge, Fred and Ginny McGill, the list goes on and on. We are the current stewards of Star Island and we feel we are responsible to make sure Star is here and in good shape for the next generation.

If you would like to give to the Star Island Annual Fund, please click here to donate online.

Build a Basket – December 12

November 30th, 2015

Basket Making Webpage Banner Image

Gather in our Portsmouth office on Saturday, December 12 from 10 AM to 3 PM for a basket making workshop. Karen Ellis of the Star Gathering conferences will be leading this workshop and guiding people through making their own basket.

The cost for the workshop is $50, which includes all basket supplies plus a donation to the Star Island scholarship fund. Participants should bring a lunch. Dessert and beverages will be provided.

The basket making workshop has limited space, and a reservation is required. Please email Karen at email hidden; JavaScript is required to reserve a spot, or if you have any questions.


The Star Island office is located at 30 Middle Street in Portsmouth, NH.

From Nana Karen

Click here to read a short piece about Lawarance, the room on Star Island where Nana Karen has typically led basket weaving classes for years.

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Our Mission

Our mission since 1915 is to hold and maintain Star Island and such other property as the Corporation may hold or acquire, as a center for religious, education, and kindred purposes consistent with the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

Our Vision

Our vision is to create on Star Island an environment that frees all who come to renew spiritually, explore matters of consequence, and gain knowledge about the world as it might ideally be.

Contact Star Island

Phone: (603) 430-6272
Fax: (603) 430-6270
Island Phone: (603) 601-0832
Staff Email Address List

Star Island Corporation
Morton-Benedict House
30 Middle Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Get directions to the office

Content © 1999–2016 Star Island Corporation. Clouds photo © Axel Rouvin.
Other photos © their respective owners.