Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden
Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden
The Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden (1763) is a National Historic Landmark and has been open to the public as a historic house museum since 1912. One of America's finest Georgian mansions, the house was built for merchant John Moffatt between 1760 and 1763. During the Revolution, it was the home of General William Whipple, one of New Hampshire's three signers of the Declaration of Independence and his wife Katharine Moffatt Whipple. In 1817 the house passed to John Moffatt's great granddaughter, Maria Tufton Haven Ladd. Her son, Alexander Hamilton Ladd, lived in the house from 1862 until his death in 1900. The house is furnished to showcase its original features and to reflect its use as a private home from 1763 through 1900.
The Great Hall with its finely carved soffit panel retains French scenic wallpaper installed about 1820. The elegant Yellow Chamber (right) is especially notable for the copperplate hunting prints which were incorporated into the original and unique wallpaper.
In 1760, craftsmen under the direction of master joiner Michael Whidden III offloaded the frame of the house from a vessel docked at Moffatt's wharf, and raised and finished the frame. In his bill for services, Whidden III notes "Bringing ye frame from ye warf on ye Spot to Raise finding all ye Men finding all ye Vittles And all ye Drink of Every Kind at my own Expence at my house." Between 1760 and 1763 Whidden and nine apprentices, two journeymen, and other related craftsmen put in total of 3,272 working days on "your house fences & garding" and also erected a barn and a shop on the site. Other bills document the exquisite details throughout the house to Portsmouth carver Ebenezer Dearing. Architectural historians have attributed the distinctive balusters of the main staircase to turner Richard Mills (1730-1800) on the basis of similar balusters in Mills's own home in Portsmouth.
The Counting House that overlooks the family wharves on the Piscataqua River was built about 1832. The Coach House, comprised of an original warehouse and shop to which a carriage bay was added, dates from the late eighteenth century.
Original furnishing adorn many of the rooms of the house and generous descendants, community members, and NSCDA members continue to add to the museum's collection. Highlights include striking examples of Portsmouth-made furniture including this settee made about 1810 and seven pieces from an outstanding set of London-made Chinese Chippendale furniture. Portraits of more than thirteen family members hang throughout the mansion, including this portrait of Nathaniel A. Haven by Gilbert Stuart.
The Garden was laid out in its present form by Alexander Hamilton Ladd in the late nineteenth century. His daily records reveal that he obtained plants from the gardens of his mother and grandmother and that he was an enthusiastic bulb gardener.
A 300-foot axis path flanked by formal gardens leads from the house up four terraces to a wrought-iron gate at the rear boundary. Grass steps lead to the upper flower beds.
An English damask rose planted in 1768 by Sarah Catherine Mason Moffatt and the enormous horse chestnut tree planted in 1776 by General William Whipple upon his return from signing the Declaration of Independence can still be seen today. The horse chestnut tree was designated the Millennium Landmark Tree for the State of New Hampshire in 2000, and is on the National Register of Historic Trees.
Pictures and information were provided by Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden
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