Thursday, February 9, 2012

Livermore House

The Livermore House, also known as the General Fitz John Porter House, is located at 32 Livermore Street, on the south side facing Haven Park.

Matthew Livermore moved to Portsmouth in 1724 to teach grammar school. He taught for seven years while also studying law and became a lawyer in 1731.

He built the home now known as the Livermore House around 1735. When the building was constructed, Livermore Street did not exist, and the home stood in what is now Haven Park, facing east towards Pleasant Street. It was built back from the road and featured a large front lawn and a backyard that stretched to the South Mill Pond.

In 1736, Matthew Livermore became King’s Advocate in the Admiralty Courts and Attorney General of the British Province of New Hampshire. A relative, Samuel Livermore, also lived here starting about 1758. Probably a nephew of Matthew, Samuel served as the chief advisor to Governor John Wentworth, Attorney General in 1769, a member of the first Congress of the United States, and a U. S. Senator in 1799.

John Sullivan worked here as Matthew Livermore’s office boy and apprentice. During his spare time, he studied law by reading the books in his employer’s law library. Sullivan went on to become a renowned Revolutionary War general, President of New Hampshire, a District Judge, and Chief Justice of the state.

Matthew Livermore died on February 14, 1776. Samuel Livermore died in 1803.

Around 1809, Portsmouth created Livermore Street, and the Livermore House was turned to face the new avenue; however, it was still on the north side of Livermore Street, in what today is Haven Park.

Fitz John Porter was born in the house in 1822. General Porter was one of the Union’s most talented leaders at the beginning of the Civil War. After the U. S. Army dismissed him for disobeying a suicidal order during the Second Battle of Bull Run, he spent the rest of his life fighting the charges. The army cleared his name in 1879.

In 1898, the city moved the Livermore House to its current location on the south side of Livermore Street to make room for the creation of Haven Park. General Fitz John Porter’s birthplace now faces his equestrian statue, which was dedicated in 1906.

The photograph from C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, shows the Livermore House on the left and the Nathan Parker House on the right.

Recently, the facade of the Livermore House has changed with the addition of five dormer windows.

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