Barrett House (c. 1800)

Country elegance and a romantic story

New Ipswich, New Hampshire

Barrett House, also known as Forest Hall, was built c. 1800 by Charles Barrett Sr. for his son Charles Jr. and daughter-in-law Martha Minot on the occasion of their marriage. Its grand scale was encouraged by Martha’s father, who promised to furnish the house in as lavish a manner as Barrett Sr. could build it. It features family furnishings, French scenic wallpaper, and a third-floor ballroom with period musical instruments.

The mansion sits on more than seventy acres that include perennial and annual gardens and a Gothic Revival summer house that crowns the hillside overlooking the expansive grounds. Learn about the multiple generations that resided at Barrett House, their lifestyles, and the impressive country estate that represents a vanished way of life from a time when New Ipswich was an active mill town.

Plan Your Visit

Location

79 Main Street
New Ipswich, N.H. 03071

Days & Hours

Second and fourth Saturdays
June 1 – October 15
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Tours on the hour.

Last tour at 4:00 p.m.

Admission

$8 adults

$7 seniors

$4 students

Free for Historic New England members and New Ipswich residents.

Directions

From Route 2, take Exit 32 to Route 13 north toward Townsend, Mass. Take a left on Route 119, then right on Route 124 in West Townsend. Go 10 miles to New Ipswich. Turn left onto Main Street (Route 123A). Barrett House is .25 miles south on the right. From I-91, take Exit 3. Follow Route 9 east to Keene, N.H. Follow Route 101 east for approximately five miles. Turn onto Route 124 east, follow for approximately 22 miles. In New Ipswich, turn right onto Main Street (Route 123A). Barrett House is .25 miles south on the right.

Parking

There is limited parking available in the Barrett House driveway. Ample street parking is available.

Contact Information

Grand and Fashionable Barrett House

Charles Barrett Sr., a mill owner, farmer, and land speculator, built the Federal-style Barrett House to help secure his family's place in society.

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  • Grand and Fashionable Barrett House

    Charles Barrett Sr., a mill owner, farmer, and land speculator, built the Federal-style Barrett House to help secure his family's place in society.

  • Parlor

    The Barretts used this parlor for formal entertaining, hosting guests for tea and conversation. It features ornate woodwork and architectural details.

  • Dining Room

    At the time of construction (c. 1800), the concept of a dining room was fairly new. Its presence reflects the high fashion and status of Barrett House.

  • Children's Room

    This room's fantastic collection of dolls, games, cribs, and toys reflects all the generations of Barrett children who grew up at Barrett House.

  • Ballroom

    The Barretts used the ballroom for entertaining and playing music. It appears in the 1979 Merchant Ivory film The Europeans, which filmed at Barrett House.

  • Barn

    The barn was detached from the house until Frances Barrett built an ell in the 1860s. Today it holds a collection of Charles Barrett Jr.'s carriages.

5-diningroommantelElegance in the Country

Barrett House was built in 1800 as a wedding gift for Charles Barrett Jr. and Martha Minot by Charles Barrett Sr. According to tradition, Jonas Minot, the bride’s father, declared he would furnish as fine and elegant a house as the father of the groom could build.

At the time the young Charles Jr. and Martha were raising their five children at Barrett House, New Ipswich was a bustling mill village and the local economy was booming with a variety of locally manufactured products. Despite being removed from an urban center, Charles Jr. and Martha maintained an elegant lifestyle at Barrett House. They entertained guests, at times in their third-floor ballroom, and surrounded themselves with fine furniture and decorative pieces. Barrett House continued to serve as Charles Jr. and Martha’s home until their deaths in 1836 and 1842, respectively.

7-libraryA Family Home

After the death of Martha Barrett in 1842, her second eldest son, Charles III, lived at Barrett House with his family for several years before moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to pursue a prosperous career as a book dealer.

In 1848 George Barrett, the eldest son of Charles Jr. and Martha, along with his wife Frances Ames Barrett, took up residence in Barrett House. Like his parents before him, George and Frances raised a family there.

In 1862 George Barrett died, leaving Frances the house. To accommodate the growth of her extended family, Frances built an adjoining ell for her son Edward and his family. She maintained residence in the main house with her younger son, George Robert.

By the middle of the nineteenth century New Ipswich, like many New England towns, underwent an economic and population decline. Bypassed by the railroad and deeply affected by the closing of local mills, many people moved away, including George Robert Barrett.

11-bathroomA Revitalized Summer Retreat

After Edward Barrett and Frances Barrett died in 1883 and 1887, respectively, George Robert Barrett took ownership of Barrett House. He and his wife, Elizabeth Barr Barrett, were living in Boston at the time. In an effort to make Barrett House their comfortable country summer retreat, they undertook several renovations, including the addition of two luxurious bathrooms.

George Robert and Elizabeth’s renovation of Barrett House took several years and was never completed. Elizabeth died in 1911 and George Robert in 1916, leaving renovation and redecoration of some rooms started, but unfinished. Crates of furniture and fixtures, still in their original packaging, are in the house today.

1-barretthouse_historyA Forgotten Country Mansion

In 1916 the house and its contents were left to George Robert’s stepdaughter, Caroline Barr Wade. She never made Barrett House her home. She boarded up the house and its contents and it sat unoccupied for more than forty years.

13-summerhouseBecoming a Museum

In 1948 Caroline Barr Wade donated Barrett House with a generous endowment to Historic New England as a memorial to the Barrett family. In 1948 and 1949 Historic New England (then known as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) undertook a significant restoration project at Barrett House. Plaster was repaired, period wallpapers were hung, and the kitchen was restored to its c. 1800 state. In 1950 Barrett House opened as a museum, sharing the history of the Barrett family and its vanished way of life with the public.

Collections on Display

Sideboard

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Painting of Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire

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Side Chair

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Property FAQs

Find out about accessibility, photography policy, and more.

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  • Can I park at the museum?

    Yes. There is a small, free parking lot at Barrett House.

  • How can I book a group tour?

    Yes, private group tours can be arranged from June through October. The cost for a group tour of eight or more is $1 off the regular admission price. Email Barrett House for more information.

  • When was the Gothic Revival summer house on the property built?

    The summer cottage that crowns the hill behind Barrett House was not part of the original landscape when Charles Barrett Jr. and his young wife Martha first moved to Forest Hall c. 1800. The exact date of construction is unknown, but research suggests Charles Jr. and/or Martha commissioned its construction c. 1830.

  • Do I need to take a tour or can I just look around?

    All visitors to the house receive a guided tour.

  • Are there restrooms at Barrett House?

    Yes, there are restrooms available to visitors.

  • Is the museum accessible to people with disabilities?

    A tour of any Historic New England property requires a considerable amount of standing some walking. Folding chairs can be provided for visitors who would like to use them during a tour. Barrett House is not equipped with accessible ramps, elevators, or chair lifts. Service animals are always welcome. We encourage visitors with concerns to call ahead. We are happy to work with you to make your visit an enjoyable one.

  • Can I take photographs at the museum?

    Interior and exterior photography for personal use is allowed at Historic New England properties. For the safety and comfort of our visitors and the protection of our collections and house museums, we ask that you be aware of your surroundings and stay with your guide. Video, camera bags, tripods, and selfie sticks are not permitted. Professional/commercial photographers and members of the media should visit the press room for more information.

  • How do I become a member of Historic New England and get more involved?

    Join Historic New England now and help preserve the region’s heritage. Call 617-994-5910 or join online.

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