Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sarah Orne Jewett House

The Sarah Orne Jewett House is at 5 Portland Street, South Berwick, Maine.

When Tilly Haggens immigrated from Ireland to Maine around 1740, she settled in Berwick and purchased a large tract of land. In 1774, her son, John, built the Georgian house that would become known as the Sarah Orne Jewett House on his family's property. John Haggens, a successful merchant and veteran of the French & Indian War, lived here until his death around 1820.

The Haggens' estate rented the house to the family of Captain Theodore F. Jewett, a merchant mariner, during the 1820s. The Jewetts eventually purchased the home in 1839. Nearly a decade later, Captain Jewett’s son, Doctor Theodore H. Jewett, moved into the house with his parents. Joining him were his wife, Caroline, and their young daughter, Mary. In 1849, while still living in the house with her in-laws, Caroline delivered a second daughter, Theodora Sarah Orne Jewett, who was named after her grandfather and father. 
Not surprisingly, Theodora preferred the less masculine-sounding name of Sarah. 

Doctor Jewett’s family lived in his parents’ home until 1854, when a Greek Revival house was built for them next doorCaroline Jewett gave birth to a third daughter, also Caroline, while they were living in the building that now serves as the Sarah Orne Jewett House Visitors Center. This is also where Sarah Orne Jewett began her writing career, publishing her first story in 1868. 

Sarah and Mary, neither of whom ever married, continued living with their widowed mother in the smaller, Greek Revival house for 33 years.

In 1860, the future Sarah Orne Jewett House passed into the ownership of Sarah’s Uncle William. Upon his death in 1887, Mary and Sarah inherited their grandparents' home, while Caroline and her husband took ownership of the Greek Revival house next door. Sarah spent a long and prolific life in the home that bears her name, writing novels, short stories, and poems about country life in the southern seacoast of Maine. 

She suffered a stroke and died in the Sarah Orne Jewett House in 1909.  

Mary continued living here until her death in 1930, passing the house on to her nephew, Caroline’s son, Theodore Jewett Eastman. Historic New England received the home as a gift when Eastman died only one year later.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any vintage photographs of the Sarah Orne Jewett House; for now, we will have to settle for the 'after' picture only.

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