Between 1785 and 1788 Hamilton created his own country seat at Pipe Stave Landing, building a grand mansion on the bluff overlooking the river. Tax records from 1798 indicate that Hamilton’s house was the highest valued in Berwick. In fact, it was taxed twice as much as the next best house, Tilly Hagen’s house (today known as Sarah Orne Jewett House in downtown South Berwick). From his new home Hamilton conducted trade, built and serviced vessels, ran a shop, and became part owner of a nearby mill.
After Hamilton died in 1802 his sons did not carry on the business at the same level of prosperity. There are allusions to their lack of ability and integrity, but most likely they were caught in the crunch of the Jefferson Embargo of 1807 and the War of 1812. The embargo and war badly damaged New England’s seaport economy, hastening the decline of many family fortunes and the death of small shipping centers like Berwick.
Hamilton’s daughter Olive and her husband Joshua Haven purchased the property from Hamilton’s sons, living there between 1811 and 1815. The property was owned by Nathan Folsom, a former business associate of Hamilton, from 1815 to 1839. Folsom, who purchased the house as an investment, probably leased it during this period.