Mansion History

The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion is an 18th century house and farm site located on the banks of Little Harbor in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1753 NH’s first Royal Governor, Benning Wentworth (1696-1767; Governor 1741-1767), moved the seat of government and his extended household to the site. The property became the center of political and social life in the colony. The Mansion is historically significant as the only original surviving residence of a Royal Governor in the United States.

Throughout the 19th century, the Mansion remained an object of curiosity for visitors to the Portsmouth area. Between 1886-1954, the Mansion was owned by J. Templeman Coolidge III (1856-1945), a well-connected native of Boston, a talented amateur artist, and a trustee of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The Mansion and the Little Harbor area became a summer destination for other Bostonians as well as a summer artist colony. It drew such renowned artists as John Singer Sargent, Edmund Tarbell, and Isabella Stewart Gardner to enjoy the splendor of the Mansion, grounds, and NH seacoast in general.

In 1954, the Coolidge family offered the Mansion and its surrounding lands to the State of New Hampshire. Governor Hugh Gregg accepted the property for the State. Today, the Mansion is owned by the New Hampshire Division of Parks. The active Wentworth-Coolidge Commission, a group of citizens appointed by the Governor, provides funding and support to ensure the preservation, maintenance, and promotion of this Portsmouth treasure.