Star Island Slogan: Discover, Delight, Unwind Link to Facebook Link to Twitter Link to Instagram Link to Facebook Link to Google Plus


Jazz Age Lawn Party and Soiree on Star Island

Gatsby on the Isles

Saturday, August 27 to Sunday, August 28

Click Here to Register Starting January 11

On August 27 ’15, the S.S. Gatsby docks in Portsmouth harbor. Come aboard for Gatsby on the Isles, a 1920s bash on the high seas, featuring live music, lawn games, and a picnic on the Isles of Shoals. Join us for just the day or spend the night on the island for an evening of dancing at the historic hotel. It’s a summer jaunt guaranteed to be the bee’s knees and proceeds benefit the Star Island Corporation. Our party will gather the morning of Saturday, August 27, at 315 Market Street in Portsmouth (the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company). We arrive at Star Island at noon, and have the rest of the afternoon to carouse and explore the Victorian hotel and island. We’ll have a 1920s jazz band, refreshments, and croquet and other lawn games. Day trippers depart Star in the late afternoon, arriving back in Portsmouth in the early evening. Guests may book advance reservations at the hotel to spend the night for an evening of dining, dancing and delightful company. Overnight guests will depart for the mainland on Sunday.

What to Wear: Sheiks and shebas, get up in your glad rags like it’s 1924. Ladies: Doll up in your favorite summer flapper dress and cloche hat. Gents: Wear your best seersucker or linen, a sharp tie and your snappiest straw hat. If you like, bring a change of evening clothes for the evening hot jazz soiree.

What to Bring. Picnic fare and your favorite vintage accoutrements. Dust off your vintage picnic, croquet, and bocce sets, antique beach chairs and umbrellas, and musical instruments (for those wishing to jazz up the afternoon). Please note that the Thomas Laighton has limited space, so large items may not be possible to bring aboard.

All ages are welcome and we’ll have vintage lawn and parlor games to entertain children and adults alike. Invite your friends and spread the news. Last year’s event was a roaring success, so don’t miss this darb summer tradition on the seacoast. Hosted by Old as Adam Antiques & Vintage Haberdashery, 33 Ceres Street, Portsmouth, NH.


Email Adam at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Late 19th to early 20th Century American and British Music

Chamber Music on Star

Friday, September 9 to Sunday, September 11, 2016

Click Here to Register Starting January 11

For our third summer, cellist Theodore Mook once again brings some extraordinary musician friends to Star for a superb weekend of world-class chamber music. This year, the repertoire will be drawn from salon music of the late 19th and early 20th Century, concentrating on American and British composers— once again played in our 200 year-old, candlelit stone chapel, the stately lobby of our 19th Century hotel, its intimate Pink Parlor and a fourth venue experienced last summer in our Stone Village.


Paul Rosenbloom, piano
Theodore Mook, cello
Alexey Shabalin, violin
Rob Hayden, clarinet
Diana McVey, soprano
and friends

Conference Chairs

Irene and John Bush

Program Fee

$100 per person


Contact Registrar, Jill Brody at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Express Yourself

Star Arts

Saturday, June 18 to Saturday, June 25, 2016

Click Here to Register Starting January 11

Star Arts is an affirming community of emerging and established artists in many mediums who come together on a beautiful island to engage and create in a safe, nurturing environment. Amidst music, laughter, sea gulls, and spectacular sunsets, we inspire each other to deep personal reflection and to deep interpersonal connections. Sometimes we expand on current talents; sometimes we take risks on new frontiers. Always, we come away refreshed, relaxed and wishing to come back again. Whether venturing into joint efforts or following a solitary voice in personal reflection, Star Island can be a creative, spiritual place to call home. Professional and amateur artists alike are welcome to spend their mornings in the workshop of their choice: music, writing, drama, photography, painting, or dance. Conferees are also welcome to let their muses choose the time and pace of their inspirations. “Porch sitting” is an honored occupation as well. Other activities include glorious music, spontaneous performances, concerts, talent shows, chapels, rehearsals, quiet contemplation, afternoon skill-sharing, and other adventures to nourish the creative, spiritual, and curious mind. Do everything – or do nothing. It’s your week.

Workshop Leaders

Photography: Annie Tiberio Cameron
Visual Arts: Nancy Sargent Howell
Writing: Steven Ratiner
Dance: Healani
Theater: Margo Whitcomb
Music: Paco Samb

Minister of the Week

Rev. Kate Wilkinson, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Provincetown, MA

Program Fee

$110 per person


Visit for more information.


Contact the registrar, Barbara O’Brien at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Choral Singing

Star Harmony

Friday, September 16 to Sunday, September 18, 2016

Click Here to Register Starting January 11

Mary Cay Brass, Mary Alice Amidon and Peter Amidon will be leading a weekend of a cappella and piano/SATB choral singing: arrangements of folk songs, hymns, spirituals, gospel, seasonal songs, shape note songs and songs written by folks steeped in the oral tradition; for directors and singers in community, church and hospice choruses, and for those who simply love to sing. The event goes from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch. The schedule will include lots of singing, but also unstructured free time to explore the Star Island. Participants will go home with a book of all the music sung through the weekend.

Singing Leaders

Mary Cay Brass, Mary Alice Amidon and Peter Amidon

Program Fee:

$100 per person


Email Peter Amidon, Conference Registrar & Singing Leader, with questions via email email hidden; JavaScript is required

The Shoals Songbook – A Durable and Attractive Form

November 4th, 2015

Shoals Songbook Cover Icon

In June of 1941 a book of lyrics was printed by Star Island for use by island guests and even for mainland engagements. This book, while just a small dot on the timeline of Star Island’s history, speaks to the power of music that so many people have felt when visiting the Isles of Shoals. From the salons of Celia Thaxter to last year’s September weekend featuring both Chamber Music and the Fall Back to Star concert series, the power of lyrics and music have been a hallmark of this island community.

A note from the editors “To All Shoalers” share how the songs printed in the booklet “typify the life and spirit of Shoals Fellowship — a most loyal group of people numbering well into the thousands.” And in each instance the songs, often re-worked lyrics to popular tunes, capture either a very particular aspect of Star Island or grasps the overarching sentiments one feels when stepping foot on island.

A song like “Island Treasures” touches on the histry of Star mentioning both the “fishermen sturdy and strong” and how “today we are gathered for work and for play.”

The sense of passion for Star Island is present in each song, especially one like “Star Island, I Love You” which includes such lines as “You are the isles of my dreams;” “Just like a perfect jewel,” and concludes with “Star Island, oh I love you, and there are twenty thousand others like me.”

While not suggesting you post videos on Youtube of you and your friends harmonizing “Shoals Hymn” it would make a great challenge. The song is written to the tune of “Materna” which most people know as “America The Beautiful”. Written in 1930 by Josiah R. Bartlett, this song speaks to Star Island’s current vision statement with lyrics like “Star Island, thou art the source of ideals high and true, and may thy torch, which guides us on, burn brighter, ever new.” What is our vision statement? Click here to find out.

Credit for the booklet goes to Robert and Carola Hinke who designed, illustrated and printed it at the Easterwood Press in East Orange, NJ. Their publication brought this remark from the editors: “The collection has been housed in a durable and attractive form” which could easily be said of Star Island.

Take a look at a few of the songs from the Shoals Song Book and remember the closing words of editors Pauline Wood Cutten, Frederick T. McGill, Dorothy Nugent, and Carl B. Wetherell: “Singing people are happy people!”

Island Treasures Image

Gosport Harbor Image

Star Island I Love You Image

Shoals Hymn

There Is An Island Image

Want to sing these songs on Star Island? Registration for 2016 summer conferences starts on January 1, 2016

For Your Enjoyment: Our Staff Talent Shows

February 26th, 2015


The creative spirit on Star Island, ever present in our summer programs, is equally ingrained in our summer staff. Before work starts, between shifts, or when a day is over our staff can be found painting on the rocks, strumming their guitars, or taking photographs of the beautiful scenery. Even during work you might find our staff — the Pelicans — singing while they fold laundry, or thinking up ideas for a skit in that week’s Pelican Show.

What is the Pelican Show? This is the staff’s weekly talent show for our guests. Usually held in the Oceanic Hotel lobby, the show is our staff displaying their talents generally through music and acting. The Pelicans often sing or play original music, sometimes inspired by their island experiences. Others perform covers of songs that speak to their summer. Their have been flashmobs with Pels jumping out from all over the lobby to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and barbershop quartets dressed in costume. Original poetry and prose are shared, and skits are often remakes of classic Monty Python skethces.

Scenes from a Pel Show


These Pelican Shows have been occuring for years, and our island museum in Vaughn Cottage has a number of recordings from shows in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. You can click here to listen to a sampling of that collection. Throughout the years the outfits have changed, but the enthusiasm and talent has remained constant. The Pelicans still gather in front of the gift shop doors to perform and guests are seated in dining hall chairs moved into the lobby.

When you visit one of our week long summer programs, you’ll be treated to a Pelican Show. And as you stroll around the island during the day you might even come across Pels practicing music while sitting on the lawn. Stop and listen, you’ll be amazed at the beautiful voices and pure talent.

When each Pelican Show concludes the staff finishes by singing the Pelican Encore. Here’s that encore from a show in the 1970’s.

Some Music, Some Singing, Some Dancing

February 17th, 2015

The creative spirit is alive and well on Star Island every summer with programs specifically devoted to music, singing, and dancing. Join in fun, lively programs like Chamber Music, Star Hampshire Dance, and Star Harmony. These programs offer brilliant demonstrations and avenues for development in a picturesque setting.

Sure you can listen to live music on the mainland, but the Star Island setting is what sets these programs apart. Activities happen in such places as our 200-year-old stone chapel set on the island’s highest point, in the lobby of the historic Oceanic Hotel, or overlooking the waterfront with sailboats passing by. And what can you expect in 2015?

Chamber Music

Chamber Music Conference Icon

Friday, September 11 to Sunday, September 13

Cellist Theodore Mook returns to Star Island with a cast of friends to delight visitors with music from French Impressionists — Debussy, Ravel, Satie. The weekend will feature concerts and talks in the stone chapel, hotel lobby, and pink parlor. You’ll enjoy the exquisite music, and the equally exquisite views.

click here to learn more

Star Hampshire Music and Dance Weekend

Star Hampshire Dance Conference Icon

Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20

Professional musicians provide structure to this traditional dance focused weekend where contra-dances are the main feature. English country, square, and couples dances are also held throughout the day. Known mostly for fantastic dances each evening in the Brookfield building overlooking Gosport Harbor, this program starts every day with waltzes before breakfast in the hotel lobby. These morning waltzes are accompanied by the sounds of the lobby’s majestic grand piano.

click here to learn more

Star Island Harmony

Star Island Harmony 2015 Conference Icon

Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20

Looking for a chance to sing? This program is for you. Star Harmony is a weekend of a cappella harmony singing led by Mary Cay Brass, Mary Alice Amidon and Peter Amidon. You’ll have the chance to sing so many types of songs: spirituals, hymns, folk, and shape-note, among many others. And all this singing takes place on a beautifully rugged island.

click here to learn more

Writers in the Round

WITR Conference Icon

Thursday, September 10 to Sunday, September 13

If songwriting is more your style, check out Writers in the Round which provides a supportive, creative atmosphere to stretch your songwriting wings. You’ll have classes, small group discussions, a chance to workshop your creations, and time to hone your material. Find inspiration in the sound of waves crashing against the rocky shore, or the smell of salty ocean air.

click here to learn more

Looking for something else? We have programs focused on a myriad of topics like history, religion, and the arts. Click here to explore our complete 2015 program list.

Next Page »

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.