Located in historic downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Moffatt-Ladd House preserves the home of Declaration of Independence signer William Whipple and is open to the public as a living history museum for guided tours. The Moffatt-Ladd House was originally built in 1763 as a residence for Samuel Moffatt and his wife Sarah Catherine, gifted to the couple as a present by Samuel’s father, John, who had been one of the most prominent mercantile merchants and wealthiest residents of the colony of New Hampshire prior to the American Revolutionary War.
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Following a falling out between John and Samuel over Samuel’s business ventures with his brother-in-law that resulted in debts and business disagreements, Samuel fled the colony of New Hampshire to seek refuge on the Dutch colonial island of St. Eustatius, aided by his cousin William Whipple. Following Samuel’s departure, John Moffatt repurchased the home as a residence for himself, Whipple, and his daughter Katharine, Whipple’s wife. Throughout the late 18th century, Whipple became actively involved in Portsmouth civic life, serving on the city’s Committee of Safety and later being chosen as one of the colony’s Continental Congress representatives, a term he served from 1774 to 1779. In 1776, Whipple became one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and during the Revolutionary War, he served as Brigadier General for the First Brigade of New Hampshire Militia.
After Whipple’s death, the longstanding feud between Sarah Catherine Moffatt and Katharine Moffatt Whipple culminated in the selling of the house to Alexander and Maria Tufton Haven Ladd in 1819. The couple’s son, Alexander Hamilton Ladd, occupied the house until 1900, during which time he renovated the house extensively and landscaped and cultivated the property’s exterior gardens. Following his death, the house was donated to the National Society of Colonial Dames of New Hampshire in 1911. In 1968, the home was declared a National Historic Landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Permanent Attractions and Tours
Today, the Moffatt-Ladd House is owned and operated by the National Society of Colonial Dames of New Hampshire, open to the public for tours as a living history museum. The three-story home is constructed in the Georgian style of architecture, featuring a wood clapboard exterior and hip roof, and overlooks the old Portsmouth Harbor area. Three chimneys adorn the roof of the house, as well as a widow’s walk, low balustrade with urn finials, and Federal-style cornice.
The home is open seasonally to the public for guided tours between June and October, with limited availability for private tours during the off season. Tour rates are available for home tours, garden tours, and season garden pass admission. Tours embark on the half hour and explore all rooms of the home, including its Great Hall, renovated with French scenic wallpaper in 1820, and its Yellow Chamber, adorned with unique copperplate hunting prints. The home’s rooms are furnished with period-appropriate furniture and adornments, including many original Portsmouth-made furnishings owned by the Moffatt, Whipple, and Ladd families. Portraits of 13 members of the families are also hung throughout the home.
In addition to the original house, the home’s Garden, landscaped by Alexander Hamilton Ladd, showcases English damask roses planted by Sarah Catherine Moffatt and a Millennium Landmark Tree chestnut tree planted by Whipple in 1776 to commemorate his signing of the Declaration of Independence. The home’s Moffatt-Ladd Warehouse is also owned by the NSCD, dating back at least to 1790 and standing as a rare example of an area 18th-century merchant’s store. The warehouse is contained within the home’s Coach House complex and is available for private event rentals and educational programming. The home’s 1832 Counting House is also preserved, overlooking the wharves of the Piscataqua River.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to standard tours, private group tours may be booked for groups of 10 to 60, including catered boxed lunches served within the facility’s warehouse. Field trip opportunities are offered for elementary, secondary, and homeschool groups, incorporating New Hampshire curriculum elements. Special educational programming may also be developed upon request for youth organizations, scouting groups, and other educational groups, including overnight opportunities at the facility’s warehouse. Educational materials are also offered for educators as part of a digital teachers’ resource maintained by the NSCD.
The Moffatt-Ladd House, Moffatt-Ladd Warehouse, and garden facilities may be rented for a variety of private special events, including weddings, receptions, birthdays, and corporate functions. Warehouse rentals may accommodate up to 90 visitors, and audiovisual equipment may be provided upon request. A variety of public special events are also sponsored by the facility throughout the year, including the New Hampshire Film Festival and Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival.
154 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801, Phone: 603-436-8221