House Stories – 19 Federal Street (formerly 15-17) – William Bartlet House


In this time when we have renewed interest in the wharfs that were located along the water such as Brown’s Wharf and now Coombs Wharf, it is time to bring up the breathtaking structure that is located at the east end of Liberty Street, the William Bartlet Mansion.  This is closely associated with Bartlet’s Wharf. (Where the National Grid facility is located)   This beautiful high-Georgian house was built by Williarn Bartlet in 1798.  Bartlet was born in Newburyport, the son of Edmund and Hannah Bartlet on January 20th, 1746.     Bartlet attended school briefly and then learned the trades of shoemaker.  Considering that the industrial revolution would lead to large scale shoe production, this put William in the direct path toward being at the cuff of the rapidly expandng mills in the region.    By the age of twenty-one he decided to expand his interest into being a merchant and was actively engaged in trade. By the time the Revolution came to its conclusion, Bartlet owned a fleet of vessels involved with the West Indies and with Europe.


In 1787 William Bartlet purchased land at the foot of Federal Street from Stephen Cross, a shipbuilder. Bartlet then built a wharf and erected large warehouses for the storage of sugar, molasses, coffee and hemp.


Wildly prosperous, Bartlet went on to dabble in politics and served as a representative to the General Court between 1800 and 1802.   Bartlet contributed twenty thousand dollars to the Andover Theological Seminary when it was founded in l808. He was the  largest stockholder in the Wessacumcon MilI which was located at the corner of Pleasant and Inn Street generally where the Montessori School exists today.    This large steam mill was built in 1837. When a second building was added to the Mill complex in 1840, Bartlet subscribed for five hundred additional shares becoming the largest stockholder and the corporation was renamed the Bartlet Steam Mills.    This entire complex ran from Inn Street all the way to the Universalists Church basically encompassing the east part of the present day Green Street municipal lot.    He never was able to see the expanded facility prosper and died in 1841.


Sadly, the entire complex was destroyed in a fire in March of 1881.


William Bartlet left his house to his daughter Hannah.    She was the wife of John Porter. Porter was the treasurer of the Globe Steam Mills.    Porter owned the property until 1874.   In that year Sewall B. Noyes purchased the property and owned it until 1906.   It was then purchased by Archbishop John J. Williams of Boston. It was then used as a rectory and convent for the Church of St. Louis de Gonzaga up until 2004.


It was then that the Arch-diocese made the decision to close the church and the rectory located north of the church’s parking lot which was located at the corner of Beck & Federal.     A landmark special zoning was established for a large section of the neighborhood called the Federal Street Overlay District.    Where the parking lot was located, a neo-Federalist and neo-Greek Revival were constructed.    The church was then converted into residences.    Dolores Pearson ended up owning two beautiful homes of which the Bartlett Mansion was a part.     Lovingly restoring the exterior and interior of the home, this palatial High Georgian mansion has now been thoroughly returned to its former glory.


Visually, this home is the spectacular center-piece of the entire neighborhood.   







-P. Preservationist


About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s