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History of JPJ House
Revolutionary war naval hero John Paul Jones stayed here with his steward during two visits to Portsmouth.
The house was built in 1758 by sea captain Gregory Purcell for his bride Sarah Wentworth. After the captainís death, his widow began taking in gentleman boarders to support her large family. Her most famous guest was John Paul Jones who boarded here while overseeing the preparation of the ship Ranger in 1777. Jones returned in 1781, this time as a US naval hero, and waited over a year for final construction and outfitting of the USS America. The America was to be the largest ship in the Continental Navy, but it was, instead, given by Congress to the French and never commanded by Jones.
In 1783 "Widow Purcell" sold the house to Woodbury Langdon, older brother of the prominent John Langdon, New Hampshireís first governor. John Langdon, whose 1784 house stands just a few blocks away, was the shipbuilder who clashed frequently with John Paul Jones during the construction of both Ranger and America. The Purcell house had nine owners until 1919 when it was saved from destruction by the Portsmouth Historical Society and Langdon's great grandson -- also named Woodbury Langdon. The house was opened as Portsmouthís first museum in 1920. The exhibits and furnishings have been donated or loanded throughout the years.
Today the three-story yellow house is known for its depiction on national television in Sears "Weather-beater" house paint commercials. It stands dramatically on the corner of Middle and State streets, just a five minute walk from popular Market Square in downtown Portsmouth and near Prescott Park, the harbor and Strawbery Banke Museum. Most of the original grounds and gardens remain intact inside a curved fence topped by distinctive oval finials. The tour of two floors includes a detailed history of the life of John Paul Jones.
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