Isabelle Hallnews@seacoastonline.com

PORTSMOUTH Burt Wolfs grandmother, Sarah Shapiro, died many years ago. Yet he often travels from his home in Portland, Maine to visit her at her house at Strawbery Banke Museum.

Since1997, when the Shapiro House first opened, Barbara Ann Paster has played the role of Sarah Shapiro speaking with her accent, cooking on the coal stove in her restored kitchen, and telling visitors about the history of her family.

BarbaraAnn has been portraying my grandmother for 20 years. Shes done it so long that she believes she is my grandmother, and shes convinced me that she is, Wolf said, laughing.

Accordingto Paster, Wolf calls her Bubbe, which is what he called his grandmother while she was alive.

Imvery close with the family, said Paster. In fact, as some of them have gotten older, Ive had to correct them about how the family fits together because I sometimes know it better than they do.

Ibelieve (Paster is) doing a wonderful, wonderful job, Wolf said.

From1909 to 1928, the Shapiro House was home to Sarah and her husband, Abraham Shapiro. They, and many of their family members, were part of a small community of Russian Jewish immigrants in the neighborhood once known as Puddle Dock. Abraham was among the founding members of Portsmouths Temple Israel in 1905.

TheShapiro House has since been restored to resemble how it looked in the year 1919, and features historical roleplayers and artifacts.

OnTuesday, Wolf and other descendants of the Shapiro family, along with members of the museum staff, gathered at the Shapiro House to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Todaywe celebrate the restoration of the Shapiro House as a milestone and a template guiding Strawbery Banke Museums efforts to restore other houses at Puddle Dock and recreate the neighborhood and tell the story of those who lived here for nearly 400 years,said Lawrence Yerdon, president and CEO of Strawbery Banke Museum.

Itsvery, very emotional that this story is still being told every single day, said Elaine Krasker, the granddaughter of Abrahams brother, Samuel Shapiro, and a former New Hampshire state senator. When they came here (from the Ukraine), they didnt speak English.It was a different religion, different traditions, different culture. But they became successful.

Descendantsof the Shapiro family have supported the Shapiro House since the museum first contacted them with the idea for the restoration. The family recently established the Shapiro House Endowment to ensure the houses future success.

Accordingto Wolf, the museum has made him feel more connected with the history of his family members and more appreciative of all they had to go through.

Ifwe had known when we were growing up that the house would be selected for a museum, we would have asked my grandparents a lot more questions, said Wolf.

Read more from the original source:
Family visits Shapiro House on its 20th anniversary - Seacoastonline.com

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