John Langdon House
George Washington commented in his diary that the home of Governor John Langdon, “may be esteemed the first” among the homes in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Constructed in 1784, the house projected John Langdon’s status in the community. A ship’s captain, international merchant, militia Colonel, and one of the U.S.’s Founding Fathers, Langdon served in the Continental Congress for one year and later supervised the construction of warships for America’s Revolutionary Navy. He was a U.S. Senator, Governor of New Hampshire, and State legislator. Langdon lived in the home from 1785 until he died in 1819.
Backstory and Context
With the outbreak of the Revolution, Langdon represented New Hampshire at the First Continental Congress. One of his roles there was on the committee that established the U.S. Navy. Congress appointed him as the Marine Agent for New Hampshire, a role that saw him establish a shipyard for the construction of America’s first warships. Weapons distribution was one of his responsibilities.6 In 1777, Langford began serving in the New Hampshire Legislature. He also was heavily involved in the organizing New Hampshire’s Militia. Langdon led a unit that was involved in the surrender of British General John Burgoyne.7
Langdon’s political career continued after the Revolution ended, serving in the Continental Congress in 1787, and was also a representative to the Constitutional Convention.8 John Langdon is one of the signers of the Constitution of The United States.9 He served in the U.S. Senate from 1789 to 1801. He was a member of the New Hampshire Legislature from 1801 to 1805. From 1805 to 1811, excepting 1809, Langdon was the Governor of New Hampshire. Langdon was nominated to be Vice President of the United States, but declined to run.10Construction of John Langdon’s home began in 1783. Portsmouth carpenters, Daniel Hart and Michael Whidden III, supervised the construction. The house features rococo ornamentation, and a room arrangement that is centered around a hallway. The house was completed in 1785 and Langdon lived there until he died in 1819.11 The house has been restored by John Langdon’s descendants and displays the history of Portsmouth. Period furnishings are placed to communicate stylistic changes that have occurred throughout the houses history. Frequently, rotating exhibits covering topic like New England’s architectural periods are displayed.12