Ruth Albert has struggled for years to decide on the best long-term stewardship strategy for a house that has been in her family for seven generations. This month, the house has been listed for sale, and when a new buyer for the colonial home is found, the property of Josiah Bartlett, second signer of the Declaration of Independence, will be leaving the family for the first time since 1774.
The Josiah Bartlett House was built on The Plains in Kingston in 1774, and has remained in the family since then. It is one of only 23 National Historic Landmarks in New Hampshire, and stands in a local historic district along the town common on approximately 20 acres of fields and woodlands. No family members are available to purchase the property, and Albert, now retired, and her husband, have decided on a smaller property.
Realtor Donna Carter notes that the property is well-suited for a bed and breakfast or history enthusiasts. Albert is working with the N.H. Preservation Alliance on a preservation easement for the house that mirrors elements of the local historic district’s protection. Other New Hampshire National Historic Landmarks include homes of Daniel Webster, Franklin Pierce and Robert Frost.
About Josiah Bartlett:
The young Josiah Bartlett (1729-1795) moved to Kingston from Amesbury, Massachusetts in 1750 to establish a medical practice. When Kingston suffered a second outbreak of “throat distemper” in 1754, Dr. Bartlett discovered a successful treatment with quinine. In that same year, he married his cousin Mary Bartlett (1730-1789). They had twelve children, eight of whom lived to adulthood. Three of Bartlett’s sons became physicians; Dr. Levi Bartlett (1763-1828) lived in the homestead.
An active patriot, Josiah Bartlett became involved in Colonial era politics and was a vocal critic of the British policies. In 1774, he was chosen as one of the two delegates
from New Hampshire to the First Continental Congress. He was unable to serve that year however, because his home was destroyed by fire, thought to have been set by British loyalists, and re-building his home required his attention. However, in 1775 and 1776, he travelled to Philadelphia as a member of the Congress and was the first to vote for the Declaration of Independence and the next to sign after John Hancock. He brought a linden tree back with him from Philadelphia, and it grows large and strong today in front of the house where he planted it, nearly 240 years ago. It blooms each year around the Fourth of July.
Despite not being a lawyer, Bartlett became involved in the judicial system. He was appointed to the N.H. Supreme Court and became Chief Justice in 1788. He remained active in the medical field and received an honorary MD from Dartmouth College in 1790. During the final years of his life, Josiah Bartlett served as the fourth Governor of New Hampshire from 1790 to 1794.
About the property:
The large home was built in 1774 and “updated” in the 19th century with Greek Revival detailing. A historic barn also stands on the property.