The 241-Year-Old Colonial Home in Kingston, New Hampshire, has never been on the market, but this year the seventh generation of the family that has always owned this property—one as historically important as, say, the Granite State homes of Daniel Webster, Franklin Pierce, and Robert Frost—has decided, reluctantly, to put it on the market … We […]
By The Yankee Moseyer
Apr 07 2015
The parlor displays Bartlett family memorabilia.Photo Credit : Jim Cole/AP/Corbis
The 241-Year-Old Colonial Home in Kingston, New Hampshire, has never been on the market, but this year the seventh generation of the family that has always owned this property—one as historically important as, say, the Granite State homes of Daniel Webster, Franklin Pierce, and Robert Frost—has decided, reluctantly, to put it on the market …
We were met at the elegant front door by the current owner, Ruth Albert, who also happens to be the great-great-great-great- (four greats!) -granddaughter of Dr. Josiah Bartlett, who built the house in 1774, two years before he signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. His signature is the second one—right after John Hancock’s. And Ruth Albert, representing the seventh generation of the Josiah Bartlett family, has lived here in this house almost all her life, the more recent years with her husband, Dale (who was on his construction job the day of our visit). For 241 years, the property has never been out of her family.
Ruth instantly made us feel welcome as she led us through a parlor, where her ancestors’ weddings and funerals were once held, to what was once the kitchen, now the dining room. (The newer kitchen is at the back of the house.) There we visited for a while in front of a lovely old fireplace, surrounded by various antiques, paintings, and bric-a-brac from past years. We were immediately aware of how much Ruth loves every square inch of her family homestead. “It’s amazing,” she said at one point, “to be doing the same activities each day in the same rooms where generations of my family did before me. They sat in the same chairs we’re sitting in now and lit a fire in that fireplace after coming down those stairs every morning.”
She paused, then continued: “Now, for me, it feels very safe to live in this house. It provides me with a tremendous sense of belonging.” She told us that her grandmother was born “in that room over there” and that she would guess that probably the children of all the generations of Bartletts were born here.
Does she know the names of any people in each of those generations? “Sure,” she replied. “After Josiah there were three Levis—two of whom, like Josiah, became doctors—followed by two Gertrudes (my grandmother and my mother), and then, of course, me.”
Yes, of course, she and Dale were very much hoping to pass along the property to a family member. Although Ruth has no children of her own, she contacted her many cousins, second cousins, and even their children, scattered about the country, in hopes that someone would agree to become the eighth generation of the family to take ownership. But, alas, although all expressed love for the place—many even attending dinner last Thanksgiving with Ruth and Dale—no one could see his or her way clear to relocate to Kingston. Thus it became obvious to Ruth and Dale that it was time to downsize. Sad, but for many of us, that’s the reality.
The price for the house (not including contents), the barn, and 7.9 acres of open fields behind the house (the front faces the town green): $599,900. For an additional 10 acres, including 1,200 feet of water frontage on nearby Greenwood Pond, a good-sized body of water about a five-minute walk from the house: $849,900. (Ruth and Dale plan to save out three acres and eventually build themselves a small lakeside home there.)
We’d like to mention here that anyone thinking of acquiring this property should contact the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance (call Jennifer Goodman at 603-224-2281); maybe some sort of historical easement could be pursued. After all, it’s one of only 23 National Historic Landmarks in New Hampshire and is certainly as historically important as, say, the New Hampshire homes of Daniel Webster, Franklin Pierce, and Robert Frost. (Restrictions would apply only to the home’s exterior; the interior may be altered.)
Well, eventually Ruth walked us through all 10 rooms, including five bedrooms upstairs, two bathrooms, and, at the far end of the second floor, the original outhouse with its fabulous old tin bathtub. (We’d never seen an outhouse in a house before.) We also examined Dr. Josiah Bartlett’s medical instruments, displayed on an antique table in the parlor. Among many odd “medical” tools there was a sword-like curved knife and even a hacksaw used for amputations (yikes). Tiny medicine vials still contain some pills, now partially disintegrated, that Dr. Bartlett would have taken with him as he made his extensive house calls on horseback. His original desk and chair are nearby, too.
On our way outside, Ruth posed for a photo next to the biggest European linden tree we’ve ever seen. Its massive branches spread out in all directions right in front of the house. Ruth told us that after Bartlett signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, he headed home with this tree, then just a sapling, and planted it here, where it blooms every year. Exactly when does it bloom? Well, on or around every Fourth of July. Of course!
For details, contact Donna Carter of Donna Carter Real Estate, 98 Amesbury Road, Kensington, NH 03833. 603-770-0516; homefinder.com/agent/Donna-Carter-2752408d