For the First Time, Again: The State House (And Its Gift Shop) Welcome You Back
New Hampshire’s State House reopened to the public today after closing due to the pandemic last fall.
Committee rooms were alternately abuzz and quiet on Monday as teams of legislative negotiators worked to reach agreement on dozens of bills. State House Visitor Center Director Virginia Drew stood ready, crowd count clicker in hand, to welcome people back.
“A visitors’ center without visitors has been very depressing,” Drew said. “And we have a gift shop that hasn’t done very well without having anyone come in.”
Rep. Ralph Boehm, stopping in to say hello, suggested the visitors’ center might do better if it had a catalog. (It does, in fact, have an online store.) But Drew had another idea for how to boost business.
“I want you to buy everything,” she told the lawmaker. “You’re getting $200 every two years.”
Boehm, a Litchfield Republican in his seventh term, let out a big sigh.
“That’s pocket money,” he said, with a laugh.
On a typical year, more than 15,000 people might pass through the State House lobby in search of a tour, or a souvenir. On reopening day, Drew allowed things were kind of slow so far — but looking up.
“We had a little boy come in and be like, ‘Ah, it’s like a palace,’” she said. “And that was nice.”
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