14 - Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce was born on November 23, 1804, in a log cabin in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire.  The home no longer exists, and in fact, the site is now somewhere under the water of Franklin Pierce Lake.

Very shortly after Pierce's birth, his family moved into a house in the town of Hillsboro, NH, where his father operated a tavern on the ground floor.  I visited the Franklin Pierce Homestead in the summer of 2013:

At the age of 12, Pierce was sent to boarding schools in Hancock and Francestown.  Neither academy is in existence today.

Pierce enrolled in Bowdoin College in 1820.  During his freshman year, he resided in Mr. Grow's Boarding House in Brunswick, Maine.  I am unaware if this building is still in existence.  During Pierce's second year at Bowdoin, he boarded in Brunswick at the private home of Benjamin Orr, located at 153 Park Row.

During his final two years at Bowdoin College, Pierce resided in Maine Hall, in room 26 for his junior year and in room 13 as a senior.  The building was later demolished and rebuilt.

After graduation, Pierce began his law study, first with Governor Levi Woodbury in Portsmouth NH, followed by a semester at the Northampton Law School in Massachusetts, and finally under Judge Edmund Parker in Amherst NH.  I am unsure of where Pierce lived during these years.

In 1827, Pierce was admitted to the bar and returned to the family home in Hillsoboro where he began a law practice in a building (no longer in existence) that his father purchased for him across the street.  In 1833, he purchased a nearby house where he, and subsequently his wife, resided until 1838.  I have seen it described as a colonial-style house located at Routes 9 and 31, which would make it this antique shop (although I have not been able to verify that this indeed the building).

From 1833 to 1842, Pierce served in the United States Congress, representing New Hampshire first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate.  I am unaware of where he stayed while in Washington DC.  Back in New Hampshire, the Pierces sold their Hillsoboro home in 1838 and over the next four years stayed in boarding houses in Concord.

When Pierce resigned from the US Senate in 1842, he returned to New Hampshire and the Pierces purchased a home in Concord, where they would reside for the next five years.  Threatened by demolition in 1971, a local group rallied to save the structure and moved it to its present location.  I visited the Pierce Manse in the summer of 2013:

Pierce spent most of 1847 serving in the Mexican-American War.  The Pierces sold their home in 1848 and boarded in the Concord NH residence of Willard Williams for the next four years.  This building has been demolished.

During the summer of 1852, after his nomination to the presidency, Pierce lived in the Ocean House, a resort in Rye Beach, New Hampshire.  This building was destroyed by fire in 1862.

Pierce was elected to the presidency and moved into the White House in 1853.  When the Pierces left Washington DC in 1857, they returned to Concord, New Hampshire, again boarding with Willard Williams, but this time in his new home at 52 South Main Street.  The Pierces lived here intermittently at first, as they traveled Europe and the West Indies for much of the next three years.  This building was destroyed by fire in 1981 and only a cement staircase remains, although there is a stone marker.

In 1865, the widowed Pierce purchased a farm at Little Boar's Head in North Hampton, New Hampshire.  He built a home there in 1866 and intended to develop the rest of the land into a resort.  While those plans never came to fruition, he did spend the summers there for the remainder of his life.  In 1929, the Pierce Cottage was purchased and moved to its present location at 422 High Street in Hampton, New Hampshire.  

Franklin Pierce died at the Willard Williams home on October 8, 1869.  He was buried in the Old North Cemetery in Concord, New Hampshire.  I visited this site in the summer of 2013:

As a memorial to its only native son to become president, a statue of Franklin Pierce has been erected on the grounds of the New Hampshire State House.

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