UPDATE: THANK YOU! Through your generosity and support, the Warner House has exceeded the challenge of the $25,000 matching gift, an incredible proposal from an anonymous benefactor. Now, the $50,000 will match the original LCHIP grant, and the much-needed repairs to the Warner House may begin this winter.
Recently, the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) awarded the Warner House a $47,000 matching grant. LCHIP is an independent state authority that promotes preservation of natural, cultural and historic resources by providing matching grants to non-profits and municipalities. For more information on LCHIP, visit www.lchip.org
Warner House will use the funds for exterior envelope and structural repairs related to moisture mitigation. The project will include much needed repairs to the brick piers in the basement and repairs of other elements including the following: parapet caps, windows, masonry and gutters. All work will adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, ensuring that as much historic fabric is retained as possible, that if an architectural element has deteriorated beyond repair, it is replaced in-kind and through making modifications reversible.
Work will occur over a two-year period and be completed in time to celebrate our 300th anniversary and will position the Warner House to last another 300 years. Be on the lookout for specialized “hard hat tours” and special programs highlighting our progress.
In an amazing display of generosity and love for the Warner House, a member who wishes to remain anonymous has already pledged a matching grant of $25,000 to the LCHIP matching grant! This incredible gesture will help the Warner House reach its goals; however, fundraising efforts must be matched to the penny to receive this remarkable gift. Your contribution will help keep the Warner House standing for its next 300 years!
To donate to this worthy cause and assist us in raising funds to match our challenge grant, please click on the donate button, which will take you to the secure Paypal site. If you would prefer to pay by check, please make the check payable to the WARNER HOUSE ASSOCIATION, memo line LCHIP GRANT, and mail it to WARNER HOUSE ASSOCIATION, P.O. BOX 895, PORTSMOUTH, NH 03802–0895.
Warner House will herald its 83rd season open to the public on monday, June 1, 2015!
When the Warner House first opened in 1932 as a house museum, the 1716-building was largely unfurnished. The last remaining descendant born in the house had died, and the remaining heirs were selling the stately brick home. An interested buyer was the Standard Oil Company with the intent to demolish the house and build a gas station; a similar fate had befallen the neighboring John Sherburne House several years earlier. A group of preservationists led by local Edith Greenough Wendell formed the Warner House Association and were able to secure the necessary funds to purchase the house in the spring of 1932, an impressive feat during a then-difficult economic climate. Through the years, Warner descendants have donated items back to their ancestral home, and these cherished possessions now furnish the spacious rooms, illuminating the rich life of the six generations who once called the Warner House home.
The house was named after Jonathan Warner, son-in-law of first owner Archibald Macpheadris.
Born in Portsmouth in 1726, Jonathan Warner followed the mercantile path of his father, Daniel Warner, and owned ships by the 1750s. By 1760, Warner was widowed with a young daughter, Polly. That year, he married Mary Macpheadris Osborne, the cousin of his deceased wife and family friend. Mary was a wealthy widow and heir to the estate of her father, Archibald Macpheadris, which included the brick mansion on Daniel Street, now known as the Warner House. Before the War of Independence broke out, Warner was a member of the King’s Council, and during the conflict, the Committee of Safety brought him to an Exeter jail after he refused to sign the Association Test. Like many businessmen who had strong financial ties with English trade, Warner straddled the political fence. Near the beginning of the war, Mary died, and in 1781, he married another wealthy heiress, Elizabeth Pitts, daughter of leading Boston patriot James Pitts and granddaughter of James Bowdoin. While his political allegiance remains a mystery, there is no doubt about Warner’s business acumen. After the Revolutionary War, Warner resumed his mercantile ways and later became active in local and state government. He served as moderator for the town of Portsmouth.
In 1810, Elizabeth died, leaving her vast estate to her husband. Warner survived long enough to see the Great Fire of 1813 gut Portsmouth, including the south side of Daniel Street where Warner purportedly had a store. As the town began to rebuild that spring, Jonathan Warner’s life was slipping away. He died on May 15, 1814, in the same house he had resided in for 54 years.
The mid-19th century journalist Charles W. Brewster recalled Jonathan Warner in Brewster’s Rambles About Portsmouth #25. Brewster wrote:
We well recollect Mr. W. as one of the last of the cocked hats. As in a vision of early childhood, he is still before us, in all the dignity of the aristocratic crown officers. That broad back, long skirted brown coat, those small clothes and silk stockings–those silver buckles, and that cane, we see them still, although the life that filled and moved them ceased half a century ago.