Saturday, May 21

10am – 12pm

Join us this Saturday morning for a very special story time with Curious George himself! Hear a story, explore the exhibition, and meet George!

Free with the price of admission (and kids are always free)!

A Brief History of the John Paul Jones House

Part 6: Under New Management

Above: Portrait of Woodbury Langdon by John Singleton Copley. Oil on cavas, 1767. Image, courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art.

by J. Dennis Robinson

In March 1783, with the end of the American Revolution in sight, Sarah Purcell sold her stately home for 1,060 pounds. The new owner—merchant, lawyer, judge, and statesman Woodbury Langdon—remains a curious figure in Portsmouth history. On business in England during the start of the American Revolution, some questioned his loyalty to the patriot cause. Two years after purchasing the Purcell House, Woodbury built a three-story brick mansion next door that locals called “the costliest house anywhere about.”

His younger brother, John Langdon, built his mansion the same year a few blocks away on Pleasant Street. No one questioned the patriotism of brother John, who had built warships Ranger and America for John Paul Jones. John Langdon became the first governor of New Hampshire in 1785. Woodbury Langdon, meanwhile, was described by his contemporaries as handsome, haughty, and intelligent. Woodbury served as a justice on the NH Superior Court, but was impeached in 1790 for failing to show up for work. John Paul Jones, meanwhile, returned to Europe to collect on his war debts and served with the Russian Navy. Jones died alone in a Paris hotel in 1792 and was buried in the city’s only Protestant cemetery. Ownership of the Purcell House passed to Woodbury’s son, Henry Sherburne Langdon, in 1796, and in 1810 to his younger brother, John Langdon, Jr. Having survived all three devastating downtown Portsmouth fires, the house was conveyed by Langdon in 1821 to his wealthy brothers-in-law, Henry and Alexander Ladd. John Parrott, a Portsmouth postmaster and US Senator, occupied the house when the Ladds sold it in 1826. A century later, like so many early Portsmouth mansions, the wrecking ball loomed.

…to be continued. 

Celebrate Preservation Month with an Historical Walking Tour

May is Preservation Month, and a great way to celebrate is to take one of Portsmouth Historical Society’s Walking Tours and capture all the charm of the restored historical homes right here in Portsmouthall the while learning a bit of history as well!

Visit our website for details and online booking or call 603.436.8433 to reserve a spot today!

Ready to Adventure with George?

The Museum Shop has the Complete Adventures of Curious George! Plus, tons of fun stuff featuring your favorite picture book characters!


History. Arts. Culture.