James L. Garvin




History of American architecture; history of engineering; geographical history; building investigation; traditional methods and materials of construction.



Adjunct Faculty

Plymouth State University      Plymouth State University

Plymouth, New Hampshire  


Teaching courses on historic methods and materials of construction and on methods of investigating, evaluating, recording, and interpreting historic structures.


State Architectural Historian

New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources

1987 – 2011 (24 years)


The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources was established in 1974 as the "State Historic Preservation Office." New Hampshire's historical, archaeological, architectural and cultural resources are among the state's most important environmental assets. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire's citizens. My duties there included research, technical assistance to the public, and writing for publication.



New Hampshire Historical Society

19761987 (11 years)


Founded in 1823, the New Hampshire Historical Society is the statewide, non-profit history museum and research library. My duties there included exhibits, research, and publications.



Portsmouth (N. H.) Athenaeum

19711974 (3 years)


Incorporated in 1817, the Portsmouth Athenaeum occupies the former building of the New Hampshire Fire and Marine Insurance Company, built in 1805. The Athenaeum is a private, proprietary library and museum with varied collections. Its holdings on the history of the New Hampshire coastal region are especially strong.


Curator and Research Curator

Strawbery Banke Museum

19631974 (11 years)


This pioneering historic preservation effort in Portsmouth, N. H. was incorporated in 1958 as one of the first institutions in the United States to utilize a federaly-funded urban renewal project as a means of preserving and interpreting a historic neighborhood. My duties there included restoring several eighteenth-century buildings, research, and writing for publication.




Boston University

Ph.D., American Studies



Dissertation: "Academic Architecture and the Building Trades in the Piscataqua Region of New Hampshire and Maine, 1715-1815."


University of Delaware

M.A., Early American Culture


Winterthur Fellow


University of New Hampshire

B.A., Art history; English



Wentworth Institute of Technology

A.S., Architectural engineering



Selected Publications


Historic Portsmouth: Early Photographs from the Collections of Strawbery Banke (Somersworth, N. H.: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1974; second edition, with revisions by Susan Grigg, Portsmouth, N. H.: Peter E. Randall for Strawbery Banke Museum, 1995).


Co-author with Donna-Belle Garvin and John F. Page, Plain & Elegant, Rich & Common: D0cumented New Hampshire Furniture, 1750-1850 (Concord, N. H.: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1979).


Co-author with Donna-Belle Garvin, Instruments of Change: New Hampshire Hand Tools and Their Makers, 1800-1900 (Concord, N. H.: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1985).


Co-author with Donna-Belle Garvin, On the Road North of Boston: New Hampshire Taverns and Turnpikes, 1700-1900 (Concord, N. H.: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1988; second edition, Hanover, N. H.: University Press of New England, 2003).


A Building History of Northern New England (Hanover, N. H.: University Press of New England, 2001).