main menu Sponsor Banner
page menu

HIGHLIGHTS Wentworth-Gardner House

  • House:
    c. 1760 2 1/2 story Georgian mansion
  • Collections:
    Significant architecture and furnishings, some original details, furniture, Wallace Nutting photo collection
  • Open:
    Tuesdays through Sundays 1-4pm
    June - mid-October
  • Admission:
    $4-adults, $2-children 6-14 years. Call or write for group tours.

HOUSE HISTORY

A Georgian Mansion Built for British Royal Governor's Brother as a Wedding Gift

The history of the Wentworth-Gardner House is a fascinating study in historic presevation. It was was built c.1760 for Thomas Wentworth, brother of John Wentworth, the last royal governor of New Hampshire. Mark Hunking Wentworth, a prominent Portsmouth merchant, built the house for his son as a wedding present. Thomas and his wife Anne had five children before he died in 1768. Anne remarried, to Captain Henry Belle-v of the Royal Navy, and eventually moved to England. The house was first rented and then sold in 1779 to two brothers, Ichabod and Nathan Nichols.

Major William Gardner purchased the house in 1793 which, with his renovations, now included extensive gardens, a barn, a wharf, a nearby office, utility buildings and store. Major Gardner died in 1834, leaving the house to his wife Sarah. Sarah's sister Susan sold it in 1854 to Col. Joshua Peirce. Many changes were made and the house was sold again in 1885 and was heavily 'modernized' and three garden lots sold.

In 1915 the house was purchased by Wallace Nutting, a former Congregational minister who played a leading role in the Colonial Revival movement. Nutting purchased four other historic houses to create his "Chain of Colonial Homes." Nutting made extensive restorations and used the house as the backdrop for a series of now famous photographs. In 1918, Nutting sold the house to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. "The Met" was contemplating construction of an American Wing, to consist of interiors removed from historic houses, which could contain period furnishings. The Met intended to either strip the best interiors from the house and install them in the Museum or remove the entire house to New York and set it up in the Museum courtyard.

The sale of the house was controversial and and a local Portsmouth committee was formed in 1933 to manage the house. The committee purchased the house in 1940 and the Wentworth-Gardner and Tobias Lear Houses Association was formed to take over the house. The Boston architectural firm of Cram and Ferguson which had worked previously with Nutting was once again hired to help the Society. All of the rooms, except the Dining Room, were repainted or wallpapered and minor structural repairs were made. It has been open as a museum ever since.

WENTWORTH LINKS
THE WENTWORTH FAMILY WAS AMONG THE MOST
POWERFUL AND WEALTHY IN SEACOAST HISTORY.


OTHER SEACOASTNH.COM
HISTORIC HOUSE ON-LINE TOURS



top of page

John Paul Jones JOIN & CONTRIBUTE
Use the online form below to apply for membership and we will send a statement to you via postal mail. You may also print this form and send checks directly to the address below.

WENTWORTH-GARDNER
TOBIAS LEAR HOUSES ASSOC.
APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP
PO Box 563
Portsmouth, NH 03802

Select your level for these membership benefits:
  • Unlimited free admission to both houses
  • Invitations to all special events
  • Invitations to "members only" events
  • Newsletter subscription

INDIVIDUAL...........$10
one season pass
FAMILY/DUAL..........$20
two season pass
ASSOCIATE............$50
three season pass
CONTRIBUTOR..........$150
three season passes and a guided tour
SPONSOR..............$250
four season passes and a guided tour
PATRON...............$500
all of the above plus two tickets to fundraiser
BENEFACTOR...........$1000
all of the above plus four season passes, plus video tour of Wentworth home

I do not wish to join at the moment, but please send more information.

Call me. I want to make a special contribution to the Wentworth-Gardner House to help with renovation.

Name
Street
City, State, Zip
Email Address
Day Phone #
Evening Phone #

Comments:

top of page

[ HOME | HISTORY | ARTS | TOURING | BUSINESS ]
[ New | Site Map | Talk | Store | Sponsors ]

[ Festivals | Scenic | Historic Sites | Historic Houses | Commercial ]
[ Kids | Beaches | JPJ House | Lear House | Wentworth-Gardner Hse ]
[ Lodging | Dining | Photo Gallery | Sponsor Directory ]

line rule

logo

Site label
PO Box 4458
Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03802
URL: http://www.SeacoastNH.com
Voice: 603-427-2020
Email: info@SeacoastNH.com


line rule