The story of Wiscasset's Sunken Garden

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Come hear a special lecture to mark the 100th anniversary of the completion of Wiscasset's Sunken Garden.

Historic New England guide Cathy Messmer will tell the story of the creation and evolution of this special garden space on Sunday, June 8 at 3 p.m. in the Nickels-Sortwell House barn.

After Wiscasset's Hilton House Hotel burned to the ground in 1903, Gertrude and Frances Sortwell, whose family owned the house across the street, put the hotel's stone foundation to good use. Miss Frances and her friends, including Rose Ishbel Greeley, one of the first female landscape architects in the country, transformed the dismal site into a beautiful and tranquil sunken garden. The lecture will be followed by a visit to the garden.

Admission is $5 for Historic New England and Garden Club of Wiscasset members. $10 for non-members. Pre-registration is recommended. Please call 207-882-7169 to reserve your seat. This lecture is sponsored by the Garden Club of Wiscasset. The lecture series is sponsored by Ames True Value Hardware & Supply.

Nickels-Sortwell House has been the jewel of Wiscasset’s Main Street since it was built by sea captain William Nickels at the peak of the town’s prosperity in 1807. After Captain Nickels’ death in 1815, a series of owners operated the house as a hotel until it was purchased in 1899 by successful industrialist and former mayor of Cambridge, Mass., Alvin Sortwell as a summer home for his large and active family. The house was lovingly restored by Alvin’s wife Gertrude and daughter Frances, who decorated and furnished the house 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. Come hear stories of life in the Gilded Age while touring this exquisite house. Nickels-Sortwell House is located at 121 Main Street in Wiscasset. The barn entrance is on Federal Street.

For more information and a full calendar of summer programs, call 207-882-7169 or visit

Event Date: 

Sun, 06/08/2014 - 3:00pm


121 Main Street
Wiscasset  Maine
United States