The Grande Dame of Daniel Street


Built in 1718 for Archibald MacPheadris, an Irish-Scot sea captain and merchant, the two-story brick Warner House is one of the finest examples of early-Georgian architecture in northern New England. It was home to six generations of an extended family (including some of my wife’s ancestors) and is today the oldest brick residence in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

When MacPheadris died, his widow, Sarah Wentworth Macpheadris (7th great-grandaunt), married George Jaffrey II, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Sarah and her 14 year old daughter, Mary, moved into the Jaffrey Mansion just up the street so she rented her home to her brother, the Royal Governor Benning Wentworth (7th great-granduncle) who used it as the Governor’s Mansion and lived there for 20 years. Reportedly he never paid rent during the entire time he was there and adding insult to injury, left behind a few broken windows. Mary, as the only surviving child and heir to Archibald, would eventually inherit and become sole owner of the property.

Mary would later marry Jonathan Warner, for whom the house derives its name. He would reside there for 54 years. Afterwards the house passed through a number of heirs and it eventually fell into a state of disrepair. It was threatened with demolition in 1932 but was saved by a group of Portsmouth residents and historians who formed the Warner House Association with the intent to restore and run the site as a house museum.

Among its many historic elements, it was said to be the first residence to have a lightning rod attached to its roof. It was installed by the device’s inventor, Benjamin Franklin.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at

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