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Opinion

July 15. 2014 9:37PM

Declaration signer

Josiah Bartlett homestead goes on the market


Built in 1774, the former home of Josiah Bartlett was placed on the market last weekend. (COURTESY)


Josiah Bartlett, signed the Declaration of Independence 

KINGSTON — From the towering linden tree that’s shaded generations of family members to the restored parlor displaying centuries-old medical instruments, walking into the Josiah Bartlett homestead is like stepping into history.

And for the asking price of $849,000, the home of the second signer of the Declaration of Independence and New Hampshire’s sixth governor can soon be yours.

The historic four-bedroom farm went on the market last weekend, according to listing agent Donna Carter, owner of Donna Carter Real Estate in Kensington.

Carter said Tuesday it was the first time in the home’s long and colorful history that it would be offered to owners outside the Bartlett family.

The home’s current owners, Ruth and Dale Albert, have owned the property for nearly three decades. Ruth, who is Josiah Bartlett’s great-great-great-great- granddaughter, grew up in the house and represents the seventh generation of Bartlett descendants to call the property home.

Bartlett’s name lives on in modern pop culture. Martin Sheen’s presidential character in the television show, “The West Wing,” is named Josiah Bartlet.

Located at 156 Main St., the regal white farmhouse was entered in to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1972. It was built in 1774, after Bartlett’s previous home on the property was destroyed in a fire, according to Carter.

Lovingly cared for over the generations, the home could be an appealing location for a bed and breakfast, Carter said, or simply a place for history buffs to reflect on the past.

“We envision either a private individual who wants to preserve this homestead or a state/town preservation organization (as potential new owners),” she added.

Ruth Albert said putting her home on the market was no easy decision, but a necessary one now that she and her husband are facing retirement.

She contacted several other family members, but caring for such a large, aging property simply wasn’t feasible for them. The property is set on 18 acres of pastures, forests and fields and also has 1,200 feet of water frontage on Greenwood Pond.

“A lot of my cousins loved this house, but they aren’t able to relocate to New Hampshire right now,” said Ruth, who has no biological children and none of her former foster children or stepchildren are able to take on the home either.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” she added. “My husband and I worked very, very hard to keep this property up, but the time has come for us to downsize.”

“We’d like to be in Florida for the wintertime,” Ruth said.

Both Carter and the Alberts have reached out to local and state preservation groups, but so far no one has expressed any plans to buy the property.

Carter noted that the property’s asking price might be a bit steep for most nonprofit groups.

Following the death of her mother in 1989, Ruth Albert held a huge auction on the property, and many of the home’s furnishings were sold.

“We had people coming in from all over the country,” Albert said. “It was pretty hard seeing some of the things I grew up sitting on get carried out of here.”

Born in Amesbury, Mass., in 1729, Josiah Bartlett moved to Kingston in 1750 to start his medical practice.

He purchased the homestead property before marrying Mary Bartlett. The couple had 12 children, though only nine lived into adulthood.

In 1765, Bartlett’s political career had its humble beginnings as a member of the Colonial assembly. Eleven years later, his name would be forever remembered as the man who signed the Declaration of Independence immediately after John Hancock.

A linden tree sapling, one of several Bartlett carried back from Philadelphia on horseback after penning his famed autograph, still stretches its boughs and shades the front yard today.

“There are three of these trees, that I know of, in Kingston,” Ruth Albert said. “And one of them is in my yard.”

AGuilmet@newstote.com




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