Date Of Visit: August 26, 2017
Location: 143 Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, N.H.
Hours: (summer hours listed)
Friday – Sunday
June 1 – October 15
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tours on the hour.
Last tour at 4:00 p.m.
Closed July 4 (as well as other major holidays)
Cost: $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for students
Free for Historic New England members and Portsmouth residents.
Parking: There is free parking in the lot on Pleasant St next to Citizens Bank and metered or 2 hour parking throughout the city
Website: Governor John Langdon House
- tours start on the hour from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
One of the oldest homes in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire area, the Governor John Langdon House remains one of the most popular homes to visit in the historic homes in the Portsmouth area.
Built in 1784 by the three time governor (at the time called “President”) of New Hampshire as well as General in the American revolution and signer of the United States Constitution, John Langdon, the Langdon House has 4 rooms on both of its floors. Many of the elaborate interior designs are attributed to prominent woodworker Ebenezer Clifford.
It was very interesting hearing about how little subtle things that we may not notice meant a lot to the dwellers of the house. Such as the ornate architecture which signalled someone’s wealth and station in life.
Another indication of wealth in terms of decor and design of a house at that time is doors. Yes, doors. The more doors you had in your home was considered a sign of wealth. The funny thing is that in the photo below one of the “doors” (the one on the left) is actually a false door. It gave the impression that the house is of
Although his father did own slaves and servants were afforded meager living quarters, Governor John Langdon did not own slaves (according to historian and site manager of the Langdon House) Peter Michaud. Langdon also reportedly opposed slavery and even went so far as to send letters to politicians in Washington expressing these sentiments. But, working and living in the Langdon House was not an easy life. The servants quarters were located in the third floor above the living and sleeping quarters on the second floor. The tour does not show these rooms. But,
If you look closely you will see how the house follows the rules of symmetry (another hallmark of a house owned by a person of wealth). If there is one window in one room, then the room across the hall would have the same. If there were two windows, the room adjacent or across from it would have two, etc. And some of the windows are ver ornate. If toy look through the window, you may notice there was a wedding during our visit. Periodically, during out tour of the house we would hear applause from outside of the house.
It’s hard to believe but on both sides of the house there was a clear view of the city and water. Trees and buildings as well as other developments know obscure these views.
The rooms of the Langdon House show, what was considered at the time, luxury and opulence.
It was also interesting to view and learn about the various items in the rooms such as this humidor and a liquor serving device.
No details were spared in the construction of the house. For one, unlike many houses at the time, the steps were wide and not as steep as most houses of the time. Also, the design of the The column, spiral and baluster shaped sequence was a sign of wealth as well. In some cases, if the home owner did not have a lot of wealth, he would often have this sequence of railings pictured below until about half way through the staircase. Then, he would have only the cheaper column railings until the end of the staircase. This is not the case at the Langdon House.
The kitchen area was, for its time, advanced.
The contraption shown below was used to let the servants know when a meal was ready to be served.
As you can see in the second photo, the straight line (vertical) to the right in the top section of the machine went to an up and down (horizontal) in the same part of the machine. This alerted the servants that the food was ready to be served.
Much like the house itself, the grounds of the Langdon House are also well kept.
Dogs aren’t allowed in the Langdon House (an exception may be made for service pets). But, I did see this smarty pants named Einstein, a 4 and a half year old Lab, Retriever and Chow mix, while I walked back to my car from the house.
Today’s featured New England related blog post is Eric McCallister Photography. The Portsmouth based photographer photographed a wedding at the Langdon House some years ago. You can find him on Facebook here.