Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion

  • Also Known As: Benning Wentworth Mansion

  • Address: 2 mi S of Portsmouth, off US 1A
  • Hours: Seaside grounds open dawn-to-dusk daily, Mansion Tours: Summer Wednesday-Sunday, Fall: Saturdays and Sundays: 10 am, 11:40 am, 12:45 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm.
  • Phone: (603) 436-6607
  • Travel Genus: Sight , Visit
  • Sight Category: Museums
  • Activity Category: Tour

This rambling, roughly H-shaped frame and clapboard building was the home and official headquarters of Benning Wentworth, who in 1741 was appointed by King George II as Royal Governor of the Province of New Hampshire. Wentworth held that position for 26 years, the longest term of any of America's colonial governors. Constructed in three stages (c 1695, 1730, and 1750), the house provides an interesting example of the development of colonial architectural styles. The chimneypiece in Governor Wentworth's Council Chamber, located in the 1750 wing, is cited by some authorities as the most elaborate such structure carved in the American colonies.

The mansion remained in the Wentworth family until 1816. The last private owner, J Templeman Coolidge, acquired the building and adjacent land in 1883 as a summer residence; an artist by profession, he restored the house and made some stylistically appropriate additions to it, the latter in 1916. In 1954, Coolidge's widow donated the building, now known as the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, to the State of New Hampshire. The house has been put in excellent condition but is relatively unfurnished. Administered by the New Hampshire Division of Parks, it is open to the public daily from Memorial Day through mid-October. - NRHP, July 1975



Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1695/00/00 Oldest part of house (western leg of the "H") is built as a "saltbox" fisherman's cottage, with a keepingroom, chamber, borning room, pantry and summer kitchen on the 1st floor. Loft, originally unfinished, was improved by Wentworth and used as a nursery.
1730/00/00 Rear ell with a dining room on the 1st floor and bedrooms on the 2nd is added in 1725 or 1730. Features include gunstock posts, supporting knee beams, weighted doors which close automatically and rolling floors crowned in the middle.
1750/00/00 Benning Wentworth Home Eastern leg of "H" is built as the council chamber and offices for Governor Benning Wentworth. Mr Wentworth moved his household to the Little Harbor property about 1753.
1760/00/00 Benning Wentworth Groom Benning Wentworth surprises his guest at a dinner party by marrying his 23 (or 33) year old housekeeper, Martha Hilton, in the Council Chambers at Wentworth mansion. Marriage of Martha Hilton and Benning Wentworth
1760/00/00 Rev Arthur Browne Reverend Benning Wentworth surprises his guest at a dinner party by marrying his 23 (or 33) year old housekeeper, Martha Hilton, in the Council Chambers at Wentworth mansion. Marriage of Martha Hilton and Benning Wentworth
1770/10/14 Benning Wentworth Died Benning Wentworth dies in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He is buried in a vault in Queen's Chapel.
1806/00/00 Capt William Rice Owner Contents of the Wentworth house are sold at auction. China dishes, soup plates, bowl, platters, tea cup and saucers, also a silver mounted gun are bought by William Rice of Portsmouth. The bowl is now back in the Council Chamber.
1871/00/00 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Visitor Henry W Longfellow tours the Wentworth-Coolidge house, which he describes in his poem, Lady Wentworth The Poet's Tale, Lady Wentworth Marriage of Martha Hilton and Benning Wentworth
1886/00/00 Katherine Parkman Coolidge Home John Templeman Coolidge III and wife, Katherine Parkman, buy Wentworth Mansion and soon begin restorations.
1890/00/00 John Singer Sargent Guest John Singer Sargent visits the Parkmans.
1890/00/00 Francis Parkman Guest Francis Parkman spends a few weeks each summer at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, especially enjoying the view from this room toward Leachs Island. It is said that Parkman bought the island for his daughter.
1890/00/00 Isabella Stewart Gardner Guest Isabella Stewart Gardner visits the Parkmans.
1954/00/00 Abigail Parsons, the 2nd Mrs John Templeman Coolidge, donates the Coolidge Mansion and its surrounding lands to the State of New Hampshire.

Data »

Particulars for Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion:
Area of Significance Architecture
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Sight Category Building
Area of Design Decorative Arts
Category for Historic Use Government
Historic Use Government Office
Museum Type Historical Museum
Level of Significance National
Criteria Person
Area of Significance Politics-government
Historic Use Single dwelling
Owner State

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration:

Registry Name:
Registry Address:
Registry Number: 68000011
Resource Type:
Owner: State
Architect: unknown
Architectural Style: No style listed
Other Certification: Designated National Landmark
Nominator Name: National Historic Landmark
Level of Significance: National
Area of Significance: Architecture
Applicable Criteria: Architecture-Engineering
Period of Significance: 1650-1699, 1700-1749, 1750-1799
Significant Year: c 1695, 1730, 1750
Historic Function: Domestic
Historic Sub-Function: Single dwelling
Current Function: Recreation and Culture
Current Sub-Function: Museum

Activities »

Activity Category Tour

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