Description - Benning Wentworth (1696 - 1770) was appointed royal governor by King George II in 1774 following New Hampshire's separation from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1679. For ten years he rented a brick residence (now known as Warner House) in Portsmouth, capital of the new colony. When the colonial assembly refused to provide the governor enough funds to purchase the house, Wentworth relocated the governmental headquarters to Little Harbor. Its stateliness and impressive interior and furnishings reflect aristocratic life in Portsmouth in the 1700's.
- Benning Wentworth (1696 - 1770) was appointed royal governor by King George II in 1774 following New Hampshire's separation from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1679. Originally the mansion was part of a one hundred-acre estate which the governor operated as a typical eighteenth century gentleman's farm. From the council chamber Wentworth signed the charters that incorporated towns over a wide territory including present day New Hampshire and Vermont. As surveyor general of His Majesty's Woods, he channeled the forest wealth of New Hampshire to the shipyards and fleets of the Royal Navy. Wentworth served as royal governor from 1741 - 1767.
A widower, the governor married for the second time in 1760 when he was sixty-four years old. His new wife was his twenty-three-year old servant. The circumstances surrounding the wedding were immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in his poem Lady Wentworth from Tales of a Wayside Inn.
In 1886, fifteen acres with various buildings, known as "the Governor Wentworth estate," was sold to John Templeman Coolidge, III, of Boston.
The Wentworth-Coolidge mansion is maintained as an historic site by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. A government appointed commission works with the division and provides financial support for the restoration of the property and its interpretation.
Recreation - The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion offers historical interpretation, scenic views and guided tours. The park is open weekends from mid-May to mid-June and daily from mid-June to Labor Day. There is a $2.50 entrance fee; children 18 and under are free. Restrooms on-site.
Climate - Winter can be cold with average temperatures ranging around 19 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold temperatures humidity bring heavy, water-laden snow to all parts of the state. Spring begins in mid-March and lasts through May. This time of the year is referred to as mud season in the mountains. The sugar is flowing early in the season and wild flowers bloom toward the end of it. Summer is the busiest season of the year for the tourism industry. This is an excellent time to travel, mountain roads are open and most of the mud has dried. Average summer temperatures range around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall brings the leaf lookers to see the spectacular colors of the deciduous trees. Expect to see bus loads of people enjoying the crisp fall New England weather.
In the south side of Portsmouth off SR 1A, head east on Little Harbor Road.