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Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion
Phone: 603-436-6607

Location: Off Route 1A, Little Harbor Rd, Portsmouth

Activities: Art Gallery, Historical Interpretation, Picnics

Amenities: Scenic views, guided tours, restrooms

Fee: The admission to the Coolidge Center for the Arts Gallery is free to all.

New for 2008: All New Hampshire residents are admited free of charge. Other admission is $7 for adults; $3 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under are admitted free.

Operation Schedule:
Mansion: The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion is open from June 20 through September 1, 2008. Guided tours are given at 10:00am, 11:30am, 12:45pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm. From September 5 through October 13, the Mansion is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with guided tours at 1:30 and 3:00pm. Please call 603-436-6607 in advance of your visit to confirm hours.

The Arts Gallery The Coolidge Center for the Arts Gallery is open May 20 through September 28, 2008, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10:00am-4:00pm, and Sundays 1:00-5:00pm. Admission to the Coolidge Gallery is free.

Acreage: 65 acres

Waterfront: Little Harbor

Number of Campsites: None

Pets: Pets are not permitted at state historic sites.


More Information
The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion is the former home of New Hampshire's first royal governor, Benning Wentworth. The rambling, forty-room mansion which overlooks Little Harbor, is one of the most outstanding homes remaining of the colonial era. Its stateliness and impressive interior and furnishings reflect aristocratic life in Portsmouth in the 1700s.

Benning Wentworth
Benning Wentworth (1696 - 1770) was appointed royal governor by King George II in 1774 following New Hampshire's separation from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1679. For ten years he rented a brick residence(now known as Warner House) in Portsmouth, capital of the new colony. When the colonial assembly refused to provide the governor enough funds to purchase the house, Wentworth relocated the governmental headquaRouters to Little Harbor. The mansion he built is one of the few existing colonial governor's residences to survive almost unchanged.

Originally the mansion was part of a one hundred-acre estate which the governor operated as a typical eighteenth century gentleman's farm. From the council chamber Wentworth signed the chaRouters that incorporated towns over a wide territory including present day New Hampshire and Vermont (Bennington, Vermont was named after him.). As surveyor general of His Majesty's Woods, he channeled the forest wealth of New Hampshire to the shipyards and fleets of the Royal Navy. Wentworth served as royal governor from 1741 - 1767.

A widower, the governor married for the second time in 1760 when he was sixty-four years old. His new wife was his twenty-three-year old servant. The circumstances surrounding the wedding were immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Logfellow, in his poem Lady Wentworth from Tales of a Wayside Inn.

Middle Years
Following the governor's death in 1770 Martha married Michael Wentworth, a retired British army colonel and accomplished musician. They made the mansion a hospitable social center and entertained George Washington when he visited Portsmouth in 1789. They had one daughter, Martha, who inherited the estate from her widowed mother in 1805. She and her husband John Wentworth, remained on the property until 1816 when they sold the house and the 113 acres to the successful merchant Charles Cushing of Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Cushing, his wife and seven children lived permanently at Little Harbor and continued operating the estate as a working farm. After Cushing's death in 1849 the property eventually passed to his nephew, William P. Isreal in 1860. Israel actively promoted the property to tourists, making the house one of the first historic dwellings in the United States to be opened to the public. In 1886 he sold about fifteen acres with various buildings, known as "the Governor Wentworth estate," to John Templeman Coolidge, III, of Boston.

The Coolidge Years
John Templeman Coolidge was an artist and antiquarian and lover of the sea. The Wentworth mansion no doubt appealed to all his interests. Coolidge carefully restored the neglected house and grounds with advice from his friend Sumner Appleton, founder of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Coolidge added a guest wing about 1920, replacing the former carriage house; however, he was careful to maintain the building's architectural integrity.

The house served as an active gathering place for the family (Coolidge had seven children) and friends, many of whom built residences nearby. Coolidge's first wife Katherine was the daughter of the historian Francis Parkman who used a second floor bedroom as a summer writing retreat during his later years. After Katherine's death in 1900, Coolidge married Mary Abigail Parsons in 1913. The widow Mary Coolidge donated the property to the state of New Hampshire in 1954.

Present
The Wentworth-Coolidge mansion is maintained as an historic site by the new Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Resources and Economic Development. A government appointed commission works with the division and provides financial supportfor the restoration of the property and its interpretation.

Important: This information was posted on June 25, 2008 and all information, services and fees are subject to change. For current information you may wish to call 603-271-3556 or contact the park directly.


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