Shapley-Drisco is the only house at Strawbery Banke that allows you to explore two different time periods. One half of the house represents the year 1795, when John Shapley and his family lived there. The Shapley family was the first to ever live in the house. The other half of the house represents the year 1958, which is when the Pridham family lived in the house. The Pridhams were the last family to live in the house before it became part of the museum. Sherman Pridham, who grew up in the Shapley-Drisco House, sometimes speaks at the museum to teach others about what it was like to grow up in this neighborhood in the 1950’s.
When it was first built in 1795, the house was waterfront property. A tidal inlet flowed from the
harbor up through the Puddle Dock neighborhood. Like most families living in this neighborhood, the Shapleys made their living through maritime trade. They relied on the tidal inlet to bring goods from the harbor to the wharf located in front of their house. These goods would then be unloaded and sold in a shop they ran out of one of their front rooms. Mrs. Shapley and her daughters would often run the shop while Mr. Shapley went to sea to trade for goods needed at home, or worked to pay off his debts as business was not always good.
In 1958, the Pridhams did not live in the whole house, as the Shapley family did. Instead, they lived in one half of the house, and a different family lived in the other half. Each family had two downstairs rooms, and two upstairs rooms. The tidal inlet, which the Shapley family had used had been filled in during the 1800’s. In its place, the Pridhams home overlooked scrap metal yards and auto mechanic shops.
The Shapley-Drisco house is the perfect place to consider how things have changed over time. Between 1795 and 1958 there were changes in everything from technology to fashion. Take a look at the two pictures below. One represents a front room of the Shapley-Drisco house in 1795, and the other represents a front room of the Shapley-Drisco house in 1958. What types of changes have occurred between the times of the Shapley and Pridham family?