Learn about the unique architecture and collections of the Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden.
Architecture of the Moffatt-Ladd House
The Great Hall (left) with its finely carved soffit panel retains French scenic wallpaper installed about 1820. The elegant Yellow Chamber (right) is especially notable for the copperplate hunting prints which were incorporated into the original and unique wallpaper.
In 1760, craftsmen under the direction of master joiner Michael Whidden III offloaded the frame of the house from a vessel docked at Moffatt’s wharf, and raised and finished the frame. In his bill for services, Whidden III notes “Bringing ye frame from ye warf on ye Spot to Raise finding all ye Men finding all ye Vittles And all ye Drink of Every Kind at my own Expence at my house.” Between 1760 and 1763 Whidden and nine apprentices, two journeymen, and other related craftsmen put in total of 3,272 working days on “your house fences & garding” and also erected a barn and a shop on the site. Other bills document the exquisite details throughout the house to Portsmouth carver Ebenezer Dearing. Architectural historians have attributed the distinctive balusters of the main staircase to turner Richard Mills (1730-1800) on the basis of similar balusters in Mills’s own home in Portsmouth.
The Counting House that overlooks the family wharves on the Piscataqua River was built about 1832. The Coach House, comprised of an original warehouse and shop to which a carriage bay was added, dates from the late eighteenth century.
Furnishings of the Moffatt-Ladd House
Original furnishing adorn many of the rooms of the house and generous descendants, community members, and NSCDA members continue to add to the museum’s collection. Highlights include striking examples of Portsmouth-made furniture including this settee made about 1810 and seven pieces from an outstanding set of London-made Chinese Chippendale furniture. Portraits of more than thirteen family members hang throughout the mansion, including this portrait of Nathaniel A. Haven by Gilbert Stuart.
Antiques & Fine Art Magazine included several articles which highlighted the collections of the Moffatt-Ladd House. One article in the Summer/Autum 2006 edition entitled, “Lesser Known Treasures of the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden,” was written by Barbara M. Ward, director/curator of the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden. This five-page article features 10 color photographs of various objects, including a Portsmouth kettle stand attributed to Robert Harrold, the portrait of Samuel Moffatt by John Greenwood, and a needlework picture worked by Mary Park Ladd while in school. To read the article, please click here.
The second article in the January/February 2006 edition of Antiques & Fine Art Magazine focuses on our suite of Chinese Chippendale furniture which is associated with John Wentworth (1737-1820), who was the last royal governor of New Hampshire prior to the American Revolution. Several pieces are currently in the Moffatt-Ladd House including two double chair back settees, four arm chairs and one stool. Two other matching arm chairs are at Colonial Williamsburg. It is possible that two more arm chairs and one or more stools were originally part of the Parlor Suite, but their current whereabouts is unknown. The article also mentions a missing painting by Walter Gay, for which an oil sketch survives, entitled Great Hall of the Residence of Alexander Hamilton Ladd. Since the publication of this short article, we have learned that another painting of the Great Hall, by Worthington Whittredge in 1865, is in the possession of one of A.H. Ladd’s descendants. To read the full article, please click here.
Through the generosity of the Joan Pearson Watkins Trust, we have received more than 80 objects appropriate for the Moffatt-Ladd House in 2014. We are particularly excited about the addition of ceramics similar in type and decoration to objects noted in the early inventories of the house.
We are also delighted to announce the recent acquisition of a Sideboard attributed to the firm of Judkins and Senter, active in Portsmouth, 1808-1826.