Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Samuel Larkin House

The Samuel Larkin House, sometimes referred to as the Henry Ladd or Ladd-Richter House, is located at 180 Middle Street, on the west side between State and Austin Streets.

The home of Colonel Joshua Wentworh occupied this space until the early 1800s. Colonel Wentworth, grandson of former Governor John Wentworth, led the first New Hampshire regiment in 1776, became a U. S. Congressman, and served as Supervisor of New Hampshire starting in 1791. One of his daughters, Ann Jaffrey Wentworth, married Samuel Larkin in 1796.


The Larkins purchased the lot, and a local joiner built this brick mansion for them, sometime between the years 1808 and 1815. Like the Academy Building on the corner of Middle and Islington Streets, the Samuel Larkin Building design has been incorrectly attributed to the famous Boston architect, Charles Bulfinch.


Major Larkin, as he was known, came to Portsmouth from Boston in the late 1700s and established a bookstore and stationers in the Parade (Market Square). After his shop burned to the ground in the Great Portsmouth Parade Fire of 1802, he became a successful auctioneer. He gained enormous wealth by selling captured British ships and their cargoes during the War of 1812. The fourteen privateers working out of Portsmouth are said to have captured 419 British ships.

Major Larkin was the Chief Fire Warden of Portsmouth from 1817 to 1825. He was also one of the seven-man delegation who welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette to the state in 1824, along with Gideon Beck, Eben Wentworth, Joshua W. Peirce, Samuel Lord, Ichabod Rollins, and W. H. Y. Hackett.

The Larkins lived in this brick mansion for about twelve years. During their marriage, they had twenty-two children, although many of them died before reaching adulthood. Samuel Larkin died in 1849 at the age of 75.

Joseph Hurd of Exeter later owned the property. His daughter, Hannah, married Henry H. Ladd, a son of Colonel Eliphalet Ladd, and they acquired the property from her father. A prosperous Portsmouth shipping merchant, Henry Ladd served as President of New Hampshire Bank and Portsmouth Savings Bank.

At the turn of the 20th Century, when the picture below appeared in C. S. Gurney's book, Portsmouth . . . Historic & Picturesque, the home was owned by a Dr. Richter.


I have been walking by this house for months, waiting impatiently for the large tree out front to lose its foliage. I am happy to finally add the Samuel Larkin House to the Walk Portsmouth collection!

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