- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Apparently, being a signer of the Declaration of Independence doesn’t carry that much clout these days.

The 242-year-old home of Josiah Bartlett, of Kingston, New Hampshire, a doctor who signed the document after John Hancock and later became governor, is still available two years after it was put up for sale by his great-great-great-great granddaughter.

The name might ring familiar to fans of the TV series “The West Wing.” Martin Sheen played President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet from New Hampshire, a fictional (and differently spelled) descendant.

Ruth Albert, who has spent much of her life in the house in the town of Kingston, wants to downsize and hopes that the home can stay in her family. She has no children, and she has exhausted her list of cousins. She got excited last year when she was suddenly approached by a fellow seventh-generation Bartlett descendant who lives in Florida, but that didn’t work out.

“I held on and held on,” the 65-year-old retired postal worker said. She said the descendant was considering moving to New Hampshire to pursue a doctorate. “I guess at one point in time she was thinking it would be kind of cool to go to Dartmouth, because that’s where a lot of our ancestors got their doctorate degrees. And then I think she decided it was just a little too cold up there.”

Albert took the property, about 10 miles from Massachusetts, off the market for the winter and advertised it again this spring.

The 4,600-square-foot, four-bedroom Colonial farmhouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and is selling for $549,900. It has a linden tree that Bartlett brought back from Philadelphia as a sapling after signing the Declaration of Independence.

Little has changed beyond kitchen and bathroom renovations and mechanical upgrades. Bartlett’s medical instruments are displayed in the parlor. One end of the second floor still has an outhouse and tin bathtub with a pump.

Additional land near the house can be bought, bringing the price to $849,900.

“People have been coming to look at it, but I haven’t had any serious offers,” Albert said.

Ben Wilson, director of New Hampshire’s Bureau of Historic Sites, says the state can’t afford to buy and operate the house without an endowment.

“Historic buildings, landscapes and monuments take an extra level of care, so the bureau tries very hard to make the most of the resources it has,” he said. “Taking on a new property that is not endowed would place an extra burden on the services and experiences we currently provide to our thousands of visitors.”

Plan New Hampshire, a group that evaluates communities’ strengths, said that the house is “uniquely important to the town, the state and the country” and that it could be used as a restaurant, brewery or bed and breakfast.

Bartlett was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1729. He moved to Kingston in 1750 to set up practice. He married his cousin Mary Bartlett, and they had 12 children. He died in 1795. One of his sons, Dr. Levi Bartlett, lived in the house, and it has stayed in the family since.

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