A House of History, Mystery, Legend, and Lore

The Tuck Museum’s Little Collection of paintings and drawings of the General Jonathan Moulton house is now on exhibit in the main hall.

The Georgian-style mansion (also once known as the Leavitt Tavern) was built in 1769, and is the only one of its kind in Hampton. Preserved by special deed restrictions, the house continues to this day as a private residence.

Moulton (1726-1787) was a wealthy merchant, large landowner, and noted Indian fighter who “uniformly and sedulously flattered the vices and follies of mankind” (diary of William Plumer, 1786). His reputation and regard, as well as the house itself, were immortalized in local legend and lore, which can be read in the museum library.

In 1922, when the Little family bought the neglected mansion, it was still known as the Haunted House and the bend in the road on which it sat the Haunted House Curve.

Recognizing its historical importance, the Littles restored the house and began amassing collections to furnish it as a future museum. The Moulton house paintings on exhibit were part of their collections.

Unfortunately, their dream of a museum was never realized; the house was sold and the collections were moved to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

In 1992, the college donated the Moulton house paintings, since then known as The Little Collection, to the Tuck Museum.

ABOUT THE MOULTON HOUSE ARTISTS

Isabella Shirley Lane Lamprey (1865-1909) was a lifelong resident of Hampton and a descendant of early settlers William and Sarah Webster Lane. She lived on Mace Road near Five Corners with her husband, shoemaker Joseph I. Lamprey.

Cornelia Cunningham Schoolcraft (1903-  ) was born in Savannah, Georgia and during the 1940s-50s resided in Dover, New Hampshire. She was a painter, illustrator, and blockprinter.

Caroline T. Cutler (1855-   ) was the daughter of George P. and Anna S. Cutler, reportedly the first people to build a summer cottage on Hampton Beach. According to Randall’s history of Hampton, Caroline “painted many watercolors of the Beach and marshes about the turn of the century.”

Also on exhibit in the main hall: A Lamprey marsh scene and a Cutler shipwreck scene. Both watercolors have been recently been rematted and reframed.

LUCY DOW WEIGHS IN: EXCERPT FROM “THE BEAUTIFUL PLACE OF PINES,” 1888

In 1767 [1769] General Moulton lost his house and two stores by fire. He subsequently built a mansion, which remains to this day, and is cherished as “the haunted house.” It was here, probably, that the ghost of the “old wife” appeared to her successor and robbed her of her jewels; and here, doubtless, the baffled devil contended for his lost vantage ground. Whether he finally obtained the General’s body, because cheated of his soul, deponent saith not; but it is currently reported that the bearers at the funeral declared the coffin to be weighted heavily enough to have been filled with stones. And the place of his burial, “no man knoweth unto this day.” [Read these legends and more at the museum’s library].

These ghostly visitors departed long ago, and flesh and blood occupy the mansion undisturbed. It stands in a conspicuous position, a two-story, hip-roofed house, fronting on three roads, and is still outwardly substantial, and little less than imposing in appearance, though innocent of paint and tasteful care. Of the internal adornments, once lavish and costly, no vestige remains, unless, by implication, in the great stairway and the panelled wainscoting.

THE OLD LEAVITT TAVERN

Read an original Yankee yarn about the Old Leavitt Tavern, written by Anna May Cole (1865-1953) in the late 1940s. Anna May was the great-granddaughter of James Leavitt who owned the tavern. She taught for many years at the Hampton Academy and in retirement ran a flower hothouse from her home on Winnacunnet road. 

Contributed by Cheryl Lassiter

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