Home of Tobias Lear V who became secretary to George Washington. Washington visited the house in 1789 while touring Portsmouth.
The land deed to the Lear House was only recently discovered and is dated October 1738. The land was sold by Elijah Plaisted to Captain Tobias Lear III, grandfather to the most famous Lear, who became secretary to President George Washington. Tobias Lear IV brought his bride Mary Stillson here in 1759. He also worked for his cousin John Langdon, a wealthy ship builder. Tobias Lear IV was Langdon's crew chief at the building of The Ranger, the Portsmouth-built ship commanded by John Paul Jones.
Tobias Lear V was born here in 1762 and died by his own hand in Washington D.C. in 1816. In 1789 he accompanied America's first president George Washington on his tour of the original colonies. The president's visit to the Lear House is well documented and the parlor of the house is restored to represent that 1789 period. Washington met with Mrs. Tobias Lear IV and the event is briefly noted in Washington's journal. Charles Brewster wrote about the meeting in the mid 1800s, getting his details from an eye witness.
The modern history of the house has yet to be fully researched, but it fell into disrepair and was occupied by a number of families until the 1930s. Ironically, the lack of modernization -- no electricity or plumbing was installed when the whole the house was occupied. The Lear House was part of the property purchased by photographer Wallace Nutting who restored the adjacent Wentworth-Gardner mansion to its original Georgian style. The Lear House is also called a "mansion" because of its size, two-story layout, large palladium window, wide hallways and fine stairway. It is a "four-square" house with wide halls running front to back on the first and second floors. There are eight fireplaces in low posted rooms. The interesting hip roof style can best be observed from the attic where, it is assumed, the Lear family slaves resided.
Until SeacoastNH.com released the attached photos by Frank Clarkson, the inside of the Lear House has rarely been seen by the public. Continued renovation is planned and recent acquisitions to the collection include items originally belonging to the Lear family.
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