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Community Assets

Private Properties Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

 

1. Foye-Sortwell Farm – Gardiner Road and Willow Lane

Owned by Daniel Sortwell, a descendent of a family that was among the earliest settlers.

2. Judge Thomas Rice House - Route 1

Until a few years ago, this home was owned by Wolcott Andrews, a descendent of Judge Rice. The house incorporates the original “hovel,” built before 1766 on the site and is considered one of the oldest homes in town. It is an example of a “Cape Cod,” pre-revolutionary structure. It has recently been restored to its original rooms downstairs.

2a. Kingsbury House - Federal & Washington Streets

The house was built by Colonel John Kingsbury in 1763 on the site of the Nickels-Sortwell Mansion. Nickels moved the house to its present site when he had his mansion built. It is the oldest two-story house recorded on “Wiscasset Point.” The simple early woodwork has also been restored.

3. Tucker-Nash House - Main and Pleasant Street.

Built by David Silvester before 1784 and moved in 1792 from Water Street to its present site by Capt Richard Tucker. At the time it was a hovel among mansions. For many years, it was the home of Henry Nash, acting Minister of St. Philips Church.

4. Erskine-Marston House - Main and Middle Streets

This house was built by Capt. Alexander Erksine in 1785 and was once the home of Col. Erastus Foote, Maine’s first Attorney General. Now it functions as both an antique shop and home.

5. Hodge House - Route 1 and Hodge Street

Built by Henry Hodge in 1787, this house has interesting bay windows. It also has the distinction of being listed in the Historic American Building Survey, HABS, #1949. This survey project was one of the Depression-era WPA projects. Each house identified was assigned a number. It was restored by Les Fossel in the 1990’s. There is now an antique store in the barn.

6. Lilac Cottage - Washington and Main Streets

Built before 1789. The cellar is of primitive construction. The house was a tea-room for many years and is currently an antique shop.

7. Gov. Smith House (Lee House) - High Street

Built by Silas Lee in 1792. Considered one of the best architectural houses in Maine. An attached long wing burned in the 1950’s. It is known, too, for having its own “ghosts.” Fanny Chase in her book, “Wiscasset in Pownalborough,” says “the Lee House, monumental in proportion and precision of outline, with its captain’s walk, its semi-circular portico whose exquisite entablature is supported by Ionic columns, its staircase both unique and beautiful, its mullioned windows and superb interior finish, place it in the foremost rank as one of the finest examples of colonial architecture in Maine.” Artists and architects come yearly to sketch or measure this masterpiece.

8. The Elms - Pleasant and Bradbury Streets

Built by General Abiel Wood in 1793. General Wood’s last wife, Sally Sayward Wood, was the first Maine female novelist. William Elmes moved the house to its present site from the foot of the Common in 1847.

9. Bradford House - Bradford Road

 

Built in 1794 by Alden Bradford, a descendent of Governor Bradford. Alden was the second Congregational minister of Wiscasset and later became Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He wrote “History of Massachusetts” and “A Gentleman’s House.”

10. Frances Cook House - Pleasant and Main Streets

Built in 1795 by Frances Cook, who was the first Collector of Customs and a personal friend of George Washington. The structure was three-storied with a mansard roof and 17 fireplaces. The roof was lowered and only 14 fireplaces remain.

11. Manasseh Smith House - Main and Pleasant Streets

Built by Manasseh Smith in 1797 and thought to be the first brick house in town. It is now used as an office building.

12. Moses Carleton House - High Street

Built by Joseph Tinkham Wood in 1804-05. The architect is said to have been Nicholas Codd, who designed the Cavanaugh House in Newcastle, the Spite House in Rockport and possibly the Nickels - Sortwell house in Wiscasset. Captain Moses Carleton bought the house for a hundred puncheons of rum. Carleton lived there until he died in his 90’s. He was a poor man but known for his taking in needy children to live with his own family. The house was restored to its original design by Logan Luke, former resident of Wiscasset.

13. Pink House (no longer pink), or Damon House - Federal and Washington Streets

Built by William Stacey in 1805, this is one of five federal houses built by him and still standing. Joshua Damon was a craftsman of note at the time and some of his furniture is now in museums. His descendents left the house to Harvard University to be used as a house for artists in all fields. That will was later broken.

14. Pumpkin House - Fore and Fort Hill Streets

Built by Hartley Wood in 1807. This, and the house of his brother, Abiel Wood, contained the only marble-faced fireplaces in town. As one of Frances Sortwell’s “saved” houses, it was the summer home of Sidney Howard, author and playwright, from 1925-30. Its name is derived from the color of the house.

15. Nickels-Sortwell House - Main and Federal Street

 

Owned by Historic New England, formerly SPNEA (Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities). This well-known local tourist attraction was built by William Nickels in 1807 (HABS., ME-102). It was a boarding house for many years until Alvin Sortwell, a descendent of the Foyes, and former mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, bought it as a summer home. His widow and daughter lived there year round and turned the empty cellar hole across the street into today’s “Sunken Garden.” That spot was left to the town, provided it remain a garden. Frances Sortwell gave the house to SPNEA. It is open to the public each summer.

16. Castle Tucker - High and Lee Street

Owned by Historic New England. Built by Silas Lee in 1807, the house had a number of owners until Captain Richard Tucker bought it in 1858. He added the portico, extended the house, and furnished it with Victorian furniture, much of which is still in the house. Captain Tucker’s heir, Jane Tucker, lived in the house for many years before donating the house to SPNEA.

It is an authentic Victorian house, containing no reproductions. The elliptical flying staircase is outstanding, and the double piazza is a landmark. It is open to the public in the summer.

17. Wood-Foote House - High and Lee Streets

Built by Major Abiel Wood between 1811 and 1825. Building was stopped early on by the death of Wood’s wife and the War of 1812, but was finally finished in 1825. It has double-brick insulation. Until recently, it was owned by Major Wood’s descendents. It is a three-story mansion with a graceful Palladian doorway and window.

18. Blagdon-Emerson House - Federal Street near Danforth

Built before 1819. It is a typical two-story “manse and mart,” or home and shop, where Charles Emerson published Lilliputian (1881-91) and then the Sheepscot Echo (both newspapers of the era). This type of house was placed at right angles to the street level to accommodate the “mart.” There are several examples of this arrangement still in town.

19. Samuel Page House - Lee Street

Built in 1837. By the 1920s, it had become a “slum” and was rescued and repaired by Frances Sortwell who added the hand carved porch by Edbury Hatch of Damariscotta (HABS ME-91).

20. Clark-Wood House (Musical Wonder House) - High Street

Built as a double house in 1852 by Henry Clark and Captain George H. Wood. Fannie Chase made it into a single dwelling in the 1920s. Her son Charles G. “Chippie” Chase carved birds from single logs, many of which are now museum pieces. The house is currently a music box museum, and it is open to the paying public during the summer.

21. Octagon House - 63 Federal Street

Built by Captain George Scott in 1855, it is a two-story brick, octagonal house, a unique architectural design (HABS ME-85) and was listed in the National Register in 1972. Once used as a school administration building, Hildreth Hawes later restored it as a residence.

Public Properties Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

 

P1. Ancient Cemetery - Federal and Lincoln Streets

Owned by the Town of Wiscasset. The oldest stone dates from 1739.

P2. Wiscasset Public Library - High and Main Streets

Built in 1803. The second brick structure in Wiscasset. Originally it was built to house the Lincoln & Kennebec Bank, and later the Wiscasset Bank and Mariner’s Bank. The county offices were located there until the Lincoln County Courthouse was built in 1824. The bank vault was sited, underwater, in a deep well for protection.

Originally a two- story building with a mansard roof, it was an example of how commercial buildings were then built as houses. Later, it was used as a residence for many years.

In 1903, Andrew Carnegie came to this country as a passenger on the Wiscasset, a ship owned by Captain Johnston. He offered $4,000 to the town to erect a new library, but the Town couldn’t afford the money for its upkeep so the offer was not accepted. Frances Sortwell along with others founded the present library.

P3. Old Academy - Hodge and Warren Streets

Now owned by the Town of Wiscasset and leased by the Maine Art Gallery. The gallery was founded by Mildred Burrage and was one of the earliest galleries to show the work of Maine artists.

Built in 1807 for the Wiscasset Academical Association, the building was used as a school until 1923 (HABS ME-48). It was listed in the National Register on October 6, 1970. The Maine Art Gallery is open to the public except in winter.

P4. Lincoln County Museum and Old Jail - Upper Federal Street

Owned by Lincoln County Historical Association. The jail was built in 1809-11 and was considered, at the time, to be humanitarian as it had separate cells and windows (slits). There was no heat until late in the 19th century. It was the third jail in town and the first building in Maine to be built for the safekeeping of criminals. Until the state prison in Thomaston was established, the Old Jail was used for the confinement of many notorious felons.

The granite slabs used in its construction were from Edgecomb quarries and are 41 inches thick at the foundation and 30 inches at the eaves.

These great stones also form the ceilings of the cells. There are six cells on each of the two floors. The third story had quarters for debtors who were allowed out during the day to earn money, but had to return at night. There was a large room used for a work area.

In the 1920s, it provided holding cells for prisoners appearing in the nearby courthouse. In 1954, it was turned over to the Lincoln County Historic Association, provided the group maintained it as a museum and opened it to the public in the summer.

The Jailer’s House burned and was rebuilt in 1837. The jailer’s wife provided food for the prisoners and their diet depended upon her generosity and thriftiness. The kitchen has a large hearth and a beehive oven, and the barn has a wonderful collection of old tools.

P5. Old Powder House

 

Powder House

Owned by the Town of Wiscasset. Built in 1813 of brick, the structure was used to store gunpowder during War of 1812 (HABS ME-70).

P6. Old Custom House - Water, Fore & Middle Streets

Built in 1869-70, the building was initially used as a customs house, and later housed Wiscasset’s post office up until the 1960s. At that time, the present post office was built on Route 1. It was then offered to the Lincoln County Historical Association, but was refused because an estimate to replace the slate roof was more then the association could afford. It was put up for auction and purchased by Charlotte Rust Hodgeman. The upper story was turned into living quarters and the downstairs became commercial space.

P7. Wawenock Block - Main Street

A brick commercial building, designed in 1856 by Alexander Johnston, Jr. It represents one of three such commercial buildings in our downtown. Until then, residential house designs were used for commercial buildings. These buildings are gems of their time and are an important part of our historic Village.

 

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