Sunday, August 12, 2012

Visit the Historic Houses of Portsmouth NH

Portsmouth NH has so many beautiful Historic Houses to tour it is very hard sometimes to recommend to our New Hampshire bed and breakfast guests which ones to visit if their time is limited.  So we thought to write a bit about the various attributes of some of these historic sites to help guests of our Portsmouth Inn decide in advance where they might wish to spend their time.

Since its founding in 1623, the citizens of Portsmouth have built ordinary homes, grand mansions, warehouses, bait shacks and everything in between.  Our guests are often stunned to find that we live among houses dating from the early 1700's that are still occupied as private homes to this day.  We live our history!  While you are in Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Historic House Association offers a combination pass that we keep here at the Inn so that you can get various discounts as you visit the member houses.  Historic New England manages several houses in town and in the surrounding area and a membership can gain you discounted access to their properties.

But now a word on some of the houses you can visit:

Wentworth Lear Historic Houses:  Comprising two historic homes and a warehouse, this property showcases the Wentworth Gardner House, which is a registered Historic Landmark, as well as the Tobias Lear House, the home of Tobias Lear, George Washington's private secretary.  The Wentworth Gardner House is a stunning example of the symmetry of Georgian architecture and contains some of the best examples of hand-carved moldings and bannisters in the area.  The Tobias Lear House hosted President George Washington when he visited Portsmouth during his presidency.  Tours are given on the hour from 12:00 until 4:00 from Wednsday through Sunday.

Warner House:  Almost lost to the development of a gas station, this lovely brick home was in the Macpheadris Family for six generations and still houses furniture that was part of the family furnishings.  These fabulous examples of New England cabinetry include works from the Portsmouth School, examples of which are found in a variety of museums.  The painted wall murals in the grand staircase are another reason to visit this 1716 home.  Tours are Wednesday through Monday, 12:00 to 4:00 (closed Tuesday).

Moffatt Ladd House:  Built for the Moffatt family in 1763, this house is also known for one of its famous owners, William Whipple, who signed the Declaration of Independence.  The story says that he returned home from Philadelphia with horse chestnuts which he planted.  One of those trees is now 234 years old.  Recent renovations to the Coach House attest to the care and stewardship of this lovely home.  Come see how the merchant class lived in the 18th century.  Hear about their triumphs and near disasters as you tour the house.  Afterward, visit the lovely gardens behind the house.  Tours Monday through Saturday 11:00 to 5:00 and Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 pm.. 

All the houses we have described are within a 10 to 20 minute walk of the Martin Hill Inn. So have a good breakfast and start walking!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I would love to live in a house from the early 1700's. The Wentworth Gardner House sounds like a great place to visit; what rich history it has. I love the detail of hand carved moldings on houses, true craftsmanship.

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