Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ward-Whidden House

The Ward-Whidden House originally stood at 117 Deer Street, near the northeast corner of Deer and Vaughan Streets. It is now located on High Street at 411 The Hill.

There were three generations of joiners, all named Michael Whidden, who constructed houses in Portsmouth from about 1718 until the early 1800s. Michael Whidden, Jr. built the Ward-Whidden House during the 1720s.

When Whidden died in 1773, Nahum Ward purchased the home from his estate for 94 pounds 10 shillings. Over the next decade, Ward extensively rebuilt and enlarged the house.

The following history of the Ward-Whidden House was researched by the National Park Service for their Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of 1935:

  • Nahum Ward sold his home to James Hill in 1783.

  • When James Hill died, James Hill, Jr. purchased the home in 1813 from his father’s widow for $1100.

  • When James Hill, Jr. died in 1828, John Hill (his uncle?) bought the home for $1000.

  • John Hill sold the house to Abigail Hill (his daughter?) in 1835 for $1200.

  • Abigail Hill immediately mortgaged the home to John S. Harvey, who bought the home for $1625 in 1863.

  • Harvey sold the home to Charles H. Mendum in 1874, but the price was now $2500.

  • When Mendum died, his estate sold the home to Katherine E. Garland for an unknown amount in 1909.

  • When Garland died In 1919, Angelantonio Mustone purchased the home on Deer Street for $3750.

Mustone was still the owner in 1935 when the photograph below, published courtesy of the Library of Congress, was included in the National Park’s historic buildings survey. Incidentally, the house on the left background is the Underwood House, which was also built by Michael Whidden.

The Ward-Whidden house was moved from Deer Street to High Street around 1970 as part of the ill-advised urban renewal project that destroyed a quaint North End neighborhood of Italian immigrants to make way for future civic improvements.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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