KINGSTON N.H. (Reuters) - For sale in New Hampshire for about $850,000: A 10-room house on 17 acres (seven hectares) of land that has been owned for seven generations by the family of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The house, built in 1774, was the homestead of Josiah Bartlett, who besides being the second person to sign the founding document of the American republic after John Hancock, was a physician, governor and chief justice in New Hampshire.
The house and surrounding land has been tended by Bartlett’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter Ruth Albert, since she was a child.
While there are a good number of revolutionary-era buildings in New England, it’s rare for one to have stayed in one family for seven generations.
“It’s highly unusual,” said Elizabeth Muzzey, New Hampshire’s historic preservation officer. “It really speaks to the family’s care and stewardship.”
Albert, 63, has no biological children, and she said other relatives don’t live close to the house. Selling it now, she said, is a way have some role in preserving its character.
“I’d like to move on to the next chapter of my life without quite so much work,” she said. “It was basically going to go out of the family at some point anyway, so I figured I might as well see it on its way and see that it gets a good, fresh start.”
Albert is considering a legal covenant aimed at maintaining the external appearance of the house, which is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An entire room of the house serves as a kind of family museum, with portraits of Josiah and his progeny and a table laid out with his medical gear, including a bone saw and mortar and pestle.
Albert said she intends to keep an acre of the property to build a house she will share with her husband.
More recently, the Bartlett name was the inspiration for the New Hampshire-bred president on the American TV series “The West Wing.”
Reporting by Ted Siefer; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech