Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Timothy Waterhouse House

The Timothy Waterhouse House, sometimes known as the Waterhouse-Ham House, is located at 273 Maplewood Avenue, on the northwest corner of Maplewood Avenue and Dearborn Street.

Timothy Waterhouse, a Portsmouth native employed as a tanner and shoemaker, was born in 1675. He built this home around 1700; however, its original location was about a half-mile north on Freeman’s Point. At that time, the headland was named Ham’s Point for the original owner, William Ham.

Timothy married Ruth Moses in January 1700, and the Waterhouses had eleven children together. In 1725, there were nine rambunctious children living in this small home (six girls and three boys), from ages four to seventeen. There’s a local story about the time the kids were home alone, enjoying a rowdy evening in the absence of their parents. They could make all the noise they wanted, because the house was isolated, and there was a snowstorm blowing outside. 

Suddenly, there was a loud knocking at the door! All of the siblings abruptly hushed themselves: Margaret, Mary, Ruth, Joseph, Timothy, Sarah, Elizabeth, John, and Lydia. The bravest and oldest, Margaret, must have been apprehensive as she walked to the door and swung it open. In the dark doorway stood an apparition dressed all in white, with a black face. Thinking The Devil himself had come calling, Margaret immediately fainted. The visitor proved to be an African slave owned by another tanner, Nathaniel Jackson, who had been sent to retrieve Mr. Jackson’s shoes – possibly a new pair crafted by their father.

The Timothy Waterhouse House, shown below in C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, moved to its present location on Maplewood Avenue around 1765 and remains a private residence.

I think it is interesting to note that Maplewood Avenue was originally named Elm Street. The name was changed around 1886, when disease devastated the elm tree population along the avenue.

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