Visit the Stunning Historic New Hampshire Home of One of America’s Founding Fathers
There is a house in Portsmouth that is well-known. It's beautiful with fabulous gardens, and has a story just as historic.
The history spans from gorgeous weddings in the 1800s and early 1900s to being part of the Black Heritage Trail for the enslaved men and women of the owners. According to the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden Facebook page, the land was originally settled by the Abenaki people.
The Moffatt-Ladd House is a National Historic Landmark Building, and one of its owners, William Whipple, was one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from New Hampshire.
The house was built between 1760-1763 by John Moffatt for his only son and his wife, Samuel and Sarah Catherine Moffatt. John Moffatt was one of the wealthiest colonists in New Hampshire, according to MoffattLadd.org. He used the best craftsmen in Portsmouth to build the home.
Samuel Moffatt was not as savvy in business as his father, and eventually lost his business and fled to the Dutch Island, St. Eustatius. His wife and one child joined him, while the other two children were left in Katharine Moffatt's care at the house.
Katharine (sister of Samuel) cared for the children and married her first cousin (common then), William Whipple. It was William who freed his slave, Prince Whipple, after much legal entangling.
Katharine Whipple and her sister-in-law Sarah Catherine Moffatt were embroiled in a legal argument as to who owned the house. Infamous Daniel Webster was the orator for the case.
The case was settled following Katharine's death, and the house was passed to one of Samuel's offspring, Maria Tufton Haven and her husband Alexander Ladd.
They lived in the house until 1911, when it was given to The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America as a museum. Despite the twists and turns of this wealthy colonial home, it speaks to the era, the enslaved, the wealthy, and family squabbles. It's a fascinating piece of local and American history.
The Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden open for the season on June 1, 2023.
Let's have a look at some of the highlights to get you excited about your visit.