Castle Tucker

Castle Tucker


Celebrate the start of summer at Historic New England’s annual Open House at Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House in Wiscasset on Saturday. Free guided tours will be given at each house on the half-hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the last tour leaving at 4 p.m.

Castle Tucker, located at 2 Lee St., is a mansion filled with the original furnishings and decoration of the Tucker family, who lived here for more than 140 years. One of the most complete and original Victorian homes in the United States, the house was built in 1807 by one of Wiscasset’s most prominent citizens — lawyer, Congressman and Judge Silas Lee. Lee spent years acquiring land parcels for the estate that was to be his architectural dream house.

Nickels-Sortwell House

Nickels-Sortwell House

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 America’s earliest lifestyle connoisseurs, Andrew Jackson Downing. Very little was changed in the house after 1900, including the 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.

Nickels-Sortwell House, at 121 Main St., began life as the trophy house of shipping magnate Captain William Nickels at the height of Wiscasset’s fortunes as a thriving seaport in 1807. After Nickels’ death in 1815, the house was run as a hotel until it was purchased in 1899 by successful industrialist and former mayor of Cambridge, Massachuetts, 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 picture of life in the Gilded Age through the early 20th century.

The Garden Club of Wiscasset has been working with Historic New England to restore the Nickels- Sortwell House garden to the way it looked in the 1930’s for a Sortwell family wedding.

Historic New England is a regional heritage organization that helps to recount 400 years of life in New England through its historic houses, collections, publications and programs.

Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House are open from June 1 to Oct. 15. Castle Tucker is open Wednesday – Sunday. Nickels-Sortwell House is open Friday – Sunday. For more information and a full calendar of summer programs, visit Historic-

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