William Pierce Johnson House

We are so in love with the yellow trim on this brick beauty in Newburyport, Mass., built in 1777.

Its original owner was William Pierce Johnson, whose family was prominent among Newburyport’s shipbuilders. They built ships in the Lower shipyard at the foot of Chandler’s Lane, now Federal Street.

A successful shipmaster, Johnson was involved in West India trade after the Revolutionary War, and by 1790, he was one of Newburyport’s ten wealthiest men. He died in 1802.

By 1851, William’s son, Eleazer Johnson (1790-1870) owned the house. The younger Johnson was elected town clerk, serving for 20 years. After Newburyport was incorporated as a city, he held that position until his death.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston owned the property for most of the 20th century, and it was used as a school by the Church of St. Louis de Gonzague. A plaque on the front of the building reads:
“Former home of the ‘French School’ and Mrs. Murray’s Nursery School.”

The other plaque called this the Sarah Greenleaf and William Pierce Johnson house. The only information that turned up in our research about Sarah is that she died in 1831 at the age of 68 and is buried in the Old Hill Burying Ground in Newburyport.

In 2003, the property was purchased for renovation and conversion into a multi-family dwelling.

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