Off Route 1A, Little Harbor Rd, Portsmouth
Art Gallery, Historical Interpretation, Picnics
Scenic views, guided tours, restrooms
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.
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.
of Campsites: None
Pets are not permitted at state historic sites.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.