Open house at Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House
Celebrate the start of summer at Historic New England’s annual Open House at Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House on Saturday, June 2. Free guided tours will be given at each house on the half hour, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. ( last tour leaves at 4).
Castle Tucker, located at 2 Lee St. in Wiscasset, is one of Maine’s most fascinating landmarks. Step back in time as you walk through a mansion filled with the original furnishings and decoration of the Tucker family, who lived here for over 140 years. One of the most complete and original Victorian homes in the U.S., this unusual style house was built in 1807 by one of Wiscasset’s most prominent citizens, lawyer, Congressman and Judge Silas Lee.
In 1858, Captain Richard Tucker Jr., scion of a prominent Wiscasset shipping family, bought the house for his new and growing family. The Tuckers updated and redecorated to reflect the styles of their time, much of it in a style popularized by one of the earliest American lifestyle connoisseurs, Andrew Jackson Downing. Very little was changed in the house after 1900, including a kitchen with four generations of kitchen technology still in place where it was used. Preserved by three generations of Tucker women, Castle Tucker is now a historic house museum shown as the family left it in 1997.
Nickels-Sortwell House, at 121 Main St. in Wiscasset, began life as the trophy home of shipping magnate Captain William Nickels at the height of Wiscasset’s fortunes as a thriving seaport in 1807. After Nickels’ death in 1815, a series of owners operated the house as a hotel until it was purchased in 1899 by successful industrialist and former mayor of Cambridge, MA, Alvin Sortwell, as a summer home for his large and active family. Mayor Sortwell’s wife Gertrude and daughter Frances lovingly restored the house over the years, decorating and furnishing it in the Colonial Revival style. The Sortwell family enjoyed the mansion as a private home and family gathering place until 1956, when it was given to Historic New England. Nickels-Sortwell House offers a warm and intimate picture of life in the Gilded Age through the early 20th century, when Wiscasset was a charmed summer getaway filled with relaxation, yachting and entertaining.
For the past several years, the Garden Club of Wiscasset has been working with Historic New England to restore the Nickels-Sortwell garden to the way it looked in the 1930’s for a Sortwell family wedding. This year, you can see their work-in-progress in beautiful full bloom in the newly restored terrace and back gardens.
For more information and a full calendar of summer programs, call 882-7169 or visit www.HistoricNewEngland.org.