Going Back in Time at the Pierce Homestead

New Hampshire is fortunate to be home to many great historic sites. One of these is the Franklin Pierce Homestead. Built in 1804 by Benjamin Pierce, the house sits on a beautiful piece of property in Hillsborough New Hampshire. Today it serves as a museum for Franklin Pierce and his family. During my visit I explored both the building and the surrounding grounds. I was also lucky to have the opportunity to tour the house, that was complimented by a wonderful guided tour. I learned so much about the family and the history while enjoying the scenery that surrounded me. There are many things that make the Franklin Pierce Homestead a great place to visit. It is a great place to visit to walk among living history.

From the Road. Photo By Colleen Ann.
From the Road.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Outside

The grounds that surround the homestead are beautiful. The house and adjoining barn sit in a cradle of trees, lawns and flowers. There is a brick walkway that passes in front of the house, and is skirted by a white picket fence. Along the fence hang red white and blue bunting that moved gently in the breeze.

Bunting. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Bunting.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

It was a great day to be outside and exploring such a beautiful place. Three sides of the main house are a cream color, while the back is a deep red. Our guide told us that in the 1800’s red paint was cheaper. In a effort to save money Benjamin Pierce, Franklin’s father, had painted the back of the house red.

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As I moved to the front. I noticed a small memorial. It spoke of Benjamin Pierce’s service to both New Hampshire and the nation.  Out behind the homestead several picnic tables have been placed around the property. This gives visitors the perfect place to eat lunch and enjoy the homestead. You can take a stroll around the building and enjoy the architecture, or sit quietly and enjoy lunch.

The homestead. Photo By Colleen Ann.
The homestead.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

The Barn

The first part of the house that we passed into was the barn. It is attached to the main building, and serves jointly as part of the museum and a visitor center.  Both the Hillsborough Historical Society and the State of New Hampshire have done a tremendous job of taking care of the building. I was struck by all of the historical elements that were present throughout the building. The barn itself is of post and beam construction, and this is beautifully displayed. You can walk around and admire the old beams and rafters, and the building even has the smell of an old barn. There are also lots of historical elements that have been added in as well. As you walk in there is a display that features a sled that was used by Franklin Pierce. There is also other pictures and historical pieces on display in the rafters of the barn. This is accented by the gift shop, where visitors can buy something to commemorate their trip. The barn in the perfect mix of the old and the new. It really sets the scene for the rest of the tour through the house.

Peering Towards the Barn. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Peering Towards the Barn.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

The Ell

The Ell was the second part of the house that we passed into. It serves as an attachment between the house and the barn, and was built in later years. It is where many of the households work was done, and you can tell this as soon as you enter. The floorboards are sanded yet had a unfinished quality to them. The rooms have some windows and doors, but both were decorated with muted colors. The tables and chairs were simple, here to serve a purpose.

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The local girls would come here and work for the Pierce family. They would be in charge of tasks such as laundry and making food for the family. The room was adorned with tools and pieces from the time period. There was a cheese press, but it would be Benjamin Pierce who would make the cheese, we were told, because he believed it was his duty as head of household.

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In the second part of the Ell there was a door that was specifically put in for the serving girls. The guide told us that Benjamin had put this here so that it made it easier for the girls to get water. It was very interesting passing through these rooms.  There is lye soap that you can touch, and an iron that the girls would use, that visitors can pick up. In many ways we  experienced history first hand.

The Main House

Once you step into the main house the architecture really changes. The rooms became much more ornate. In many of the rooms there were beautiful chairs and sideboard cabinets. There was also extensive stenciling along the walls in each room. Some had been repainted to show visitors what the room would have looked like, while in other places the original stenciling still showed. The guide walked us through each room and educated us on the importance of each. Downstairs there was the tavern turned sitting room. Across the hall was the ladies parlor, decorated with beautiful wallpaper.

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We also stopped at Benjamin Pierces bedroom, that was complete with his favorite chair. Upstairs in the front of the house there was a huge ballroom. The boys bedrooms were upstairs as well, and you see where Franklin grew up with his brothers. Upstairs also is home to the girls rooms, where you can see where the Pierce girls and the hired girls slept together. The Pierce household was one where the hired girls were treated very well. At mealtimes Benjamin Pierce would want everyone to eat together. It was a home where everyone was treated well. In each room I learned more about Franklin Pierce and his entire family.

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I left the Franklin Pierce Homestead with much more knowledge of the family of this U.S President. Each part of the house gives you a insight to a different part of the life of the Pierce Family.  They were a family that was led by a Benjamin Pierce, and knew the value of hard work and public service. They used hard work to create a beautiful successful homestead. The house is situated on a beautiful piece of property, which gives everyone a chance to sit back and enjoy the entire homestead. It is an interesting place to visit, because not only do you learn about Franklin Pierce, but his family as well. The Franklin Pierce homestead is a great place to come learn about history.

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Colleen O'Connell

My name is Colleen. I am a writer, and a life-long resident of New Hampshire. Growing up in the Southwestern part of the state, I spent most of my free time outside. As I have grown and matured, my love for New Hampshire and its natural beauty has grown as well. I spend most of my free time hiking, skiing, and exploring the natural beauty of our state. I enjoy the natural wonders of our state, and sharing these experiences and places with others through my writing.

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