Events Archive

Events Archive

The Wentworth-Coolidge Commission has facilitated a number of special events and exhibitions. Past events have included

The Lilac Festival
The Commission’s famous Lilac Festival drew large crowds to the site to enjoy the blooming descendants of America’s earliest lilacs. Activities have included lectures by lilac specialists, art projects for children, tours of the Mansion, and a lilac sale/silent auction.

Art Exhibitions
In honor of John Templeman Coolidge’s love for and commitment to the arts, the Commission has held exhibitions in the Coolidge Center for the Arts, a converted carriage house. These shows have included a tribute to landscape painter John Hatch and a collection of artwork by Coolidge family members.

Lecture Series
To promote historical and cultural scholarship related to the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, the Commission has hosted public lectures in the carriage house.

To see slide shows of past events, please visit the WCC gallery page.


Portsmouth Historic Houses Host Twilight Tour Friday, August 15
Learn more about this event that lets you see Portsmouth’s beautiful houses in the enchanting twilight setting at: TwilightTour 2014. *Take the FREE bus from the Strawbery Banke parking lot from 4pm – 7:30 pm.


Annual Lilac Festival, May 25
This beloved Seacoast event features a wide array of activities for children & families, lilac enthusiasts, and history buffs. Children will love building fairy houses with Tracy Kane (Reading begins at 11 am), creating art projects, searching the grounds on a treasure hunt, visiting an alpaca petting zoo, and more!

We will also have guest lectures by lilac experts (1pm), a silent auction, tours of the Mansion, and sales of many lilac varieties, including plants descended from our 250 year old lilacs, the oldest in the United States.

Artists participating in a plein air event will be onsite during the Festival, capturing the Site’s gorgeous seaside views, lush green lawns, and century old lilacs. Their work will be featured in the onsite gallery.

Ample parking is available on site and on Little Harbor Road. Guests are invited to use various means of transportation, including walking, bicycles, kayaks, and canoes.

Twilight Tour, August 16
The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion will be included in the Portsmouth Historic House Association‘s Twilight Tour! See the Governor’s Mansion and other famous historic Portsmouth sites after hours in the mysterious light of sunset.


"Creative Encounters": Sigmund Abeles and Henry Clews Jr.

“Creative Encounters: Sigmund Abeles and Henry Clews Jr.” July 27-October 7
The Wentworth-Coolidge Commission, with La Napoule Art Foundation, brings you our summer exhibition: “Creative Encounters,” featuring Professor Emeritus of UNH Sigmund Abeles and the work of his artistic inspiration, Henry Clews Jr.

The exhibit features Clews’ whimsical sculpture next to Abeles’ stunning paintings, many reflecting his love of horses. While the works are very different, their juxtaposition presents interesting reflections on artistic inspiration and the myriad ways in which art connects to the world around us. The gallery will emphasize the similarities and differences between painting and sculpture, the two mediums in collaboration rather than conflict, as they so often are presented.

Plein Air Gallery Show, June 21-24
Featured artists included Sally Cole, Ellen Davis, Cheri Dennet, Susan Dickinson, Norma Machado, Lydia Meade, Roseann Meserve, Kathleen Morrissey, Peter Moak, Polly Moak, Diane Minuti, Hannah Phelps, Christopher Volpe, and Pamela duLong Williams.


Lilac FestivalLilac Festival, May 28
A beloved Seacoast event, this year’s Festival featured expert lilac lectures with Q & A, a silent auction, free tours of the Mansion, and lilac sales. The WCC expanded the children’s activities to include arts and crafts, treasure hunts, alpacas, and fairy houses with Tracy Kan

“Period Wallcoverings,” a lecture by Richard Nylander, June 22
The WCC partnered with thePortsmouth Historic Houses Association to host this talk by the Curator Emeritus of Historic New England.

La Napoule Raffle & Special Opening to Summer Art Show, July 29, 6-8 pm
The Commission held its annual fundraiser raffle for a stay at the magnificent Château de La Napoule on the French Rivieria. Ticket purchasers are invited to a special preview of the Commission’s summer art show.

Summer Art Exhibition, Public Opening, July 30, 12 – 4 pm
Artists’ Reception for our Summer Art Exhibition. Free & open to the public. Live music by Joyce Katzburg (12:30-1:30) & Old Time Music Band “Shine” (2-4pm). Light refreshments served.

Artists Encounter Preservation: Summer Art Show, July 30 – October 9
This show, curated by Allison Newsome, featured site-specific works on the grounds and throughout the Mansion. It received excellant reviews from the local Seacoast media as well as the Boston Globe. To learn more and see images of this compelling exhibition, visit

Coolidge Gallery Show, July 30 – September 1.
Former Commission member and well-known Seacoast sculptor Sumner Winebaum displayed  his work in the Coolidge Center for the Arts with beloved painters Sean Beavers, DeWitt Hardy, and Wendy Turner. Learn more here.

Opening Joint Photographic Exhibition, September 25 – October 10, 3-6 pm
This will be the Opening Event for a Joint Photographic Exhibition of works by the New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists and the Exeter Camera Club of Exeter, England. NH’s State Architectural Historian, James Garvin, will be speaking. Please join us to view the photographs and meet the artists from Old England and New England.


Château de La Napoule Raffle
The WCC partnered with La Napoule Art Foundation to raffle off a stay on the French Riviera in this museum complex situated on the Mediterranean. The winner was announced at a special Champagne Preview of John Hatch: A Sense of Place. Ticket sales and donations raised nearly $11,000 that will help the Commission revive the site’s historic lilacs and restore the Mansion’s interior furnishings.

Noele & Senators“John Hatch: A Sense of Place”
 Through a collaboration with the Gundalow Company, the WCC held a month long tribute to John Hatch, New Hampshire’s noted landscape painter, in the Coolidge Center for the Arts. Throughout his illustrious fifty-year career, Hatch explored the people, the landscape, and the seascapes around him. He focused particular attention on the distinct topography of the White Mountains, the Isles of Shoals, the New England Coast, and the Great Bay Estuary. It was a great honor for the Wentworth-Coolidge Commission to host an exhibition of his work. The Commission is indebted to the many people who loaned their items from their private collections to honor this remarkable New Hampshire artist.

Twilight Tour
The WCC was pleased to take part in the Portsmouth Historic House Association’s annual Twilight Tour. This event allowed people to explore the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in a new way. Guests were treated to seeing the Mansion after hours, and they explored the Mansion by candlelight listening to strains of Mozart playing throughout.

Betsy Baybutt Tribute
Betsy Baybutt, granddaughter of John Templeman Coolidge, was one of the Commission’s most ardent supporters. Betsy left a generous bequest of $25,000 to the Commission. This gracious donation was a testament to Betsy’s lifelong commitment to the Wentworth-Coolidge State Historic Site and an expression of gratitude for the Commission’s ongoing efforts to support and promote the Mansion where she spent her childhood summers. In honor of Betsy’s love for the arts, the Commission held a special tribute to the arts in her name. This weekend exhibition featured work by the WCC’s art faculty, many of the artists who brought the Coolidge Center for the Arts to life. The Commission is especially grateful to artists Wendy Turner, Pamela duLong Williams, DeWitt Hardy, Donna Harkins, Bruce Iverson, Dustan Knight, Norma Machado, Pamela Sawin, Andrea Burzon, and Richard Moore who generously loaned their work in honor of Betsy.

To see slideshows of past events, please visit the WCC gallery page