Wiscasset’s Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House opens June 5

Wiscasset’s Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House opens June 5

Castle Tucker in Wiscasset. Contributed photo

Historic New England’s Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House will open for the season on Friday, June 4.

The museums will be open for tours Friday–Sunday. Guided tours will be given on the half hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the last tour each day leaving at 3 p.m.

Castle Tucker, located at 2 Lee St. in Wiscasset, is a mansion filled with the original furnishings and decoration of the Tucker family, who lived there for 150 years. This unusual style house was built in 1807 by one of Wiscasset’s most famous citizens, Congressman Silas Lee

This year, visitors will hear stories of how servants enabled the Lees to live an elegant lifestyle.  

In 1858, Captain Richard Tucker Jr.scion of a prominent Wiscasset shipping family, bought the house for his new and growing familyThe Tuckers updated and redecorated to reflect the styles of their timeVery 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 one of the most complete and original Victorian homes in the United States, according to Historic New England, a preservation group that counts Castle Tucker and the Nickels-Sortwell House among its properties.

The extensive archive left by the Tuckers enables Historic New England to tell the stories of this family.

Nickels-Sortwell House, at 121 Main St. in Wiscasset, began life as the trophy house of shipping magnate Captain William Nickels when Wiscasset was a thriving seaport in 1807. This year, visitors will hear new stories of the Nickels family lifestyle and its cost as told by servants and family members.  

The new tour shines a spotlight on untold stories, including that of Mary Chase Turner, who ran the house as an inn for 44 years after Nickels’ death in 1815, and William Wilcockson who spruced up the old building in 1870 for a new breed of guests and tourists.

The Belle Haven, as it was known, became popular with locals and visitors from throughout the country and Europe until it was purchased in 1899 by successful industrialist and former mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Alvin Sortwell.

The mansion then became a summer home for the Sortwells large family. Sortwell’s wife Gertrude and daughter Frances restored the house over the years, decorating and furnishing it in the Colonial Revival style.  This year, hear the stories of Ross Elwell the butler and Irish immigrants Margaret O’Hanlon and Josephine Dodge who served the Sortwell family for over 40 years.  

All visitors must follow current state COVID-19 guidelines and follow social distancing rules. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Admission is $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, $7 Student and $6 Children. Tours are free for Historic New England members. 

For tickets and other information, visit HistoricNewEngland.org or call 207-882-7169. 

The Nickels-Sortwell House in Wiscasset. Contributed image

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