Wiscasset in Lincoln County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)
Hilton House, 1892 & Sunken Garden, 1904
The Museum in the Streets
A secret garden alive with flowers three seasons of the year, the Sunken Garden was created by Frances Sortwell in the foundation of the Hilton House hotel. The site of a tavern since 1766 and the town stagecoach stop for most of the 19th century, the hotel was purchased in 1892 by William Hubbard, who renamed it the Hilton House. The hotel offered well-appointed rooms, excellent food, service and a livery stable. Business was so good that Hubbard also bought the old Nickels house across the street and ran it as The Wiscasset House.
Fire destroyed the hotel on October 8, 1903, leaving only the water tower standing. Alvin Sortwell bought the property, and his wife Gertrude and daughter Frances built a garden in the ruins, a place for relaxing and outdoor entertaining. Frances Sortwell enlisted some of her accomplished friends to design the garden, including Rose Ishbel Greeley, one of the first female landscape architects in the country, and noted NYC landscape architect Wolcott Andrews.
In 1958 after Frances' death, her brother Daniel and her sisters Clara Marean and Marion Warland gave the garden to
Erected by Ames True Value Hardware, The Doering Family and The Sortwell Family. (Marker Number 16.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Parks & Recreational Areas.
Location. 44° 0.166′ N, 69° 39.961′ W. Marker is in Wiscasset, Maine, in Lincoln County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (U.S. 1) and Fort Hill Street, on the right when traveling north on Main Street. Marker is located on the grounds of the Wiscasset U.S. Post Office at this intersection, near the main entrance, by the sidewalk. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 140 Main Street, Wiscasset ME 04578, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Nickels-Sortwell House 1807 (a few steps from this marker); Wawenock Block • 1858 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Downtown Stores c. 1892 (about 400 feet away); R.H.T. Taylor Store in 1882 (about 400 feet away); Boothbay Maine Civil War Monument (approx. 8.9 miles away); All Gave Some, Some Gave All - Vietnam War (approx. 9.6 miles away); Constable William Lawrence (approx. 9.6 miles away); City of Bath (approx. 9.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wiscasset.
Related markers. list of markers that are related to this marker. Wiscasset, Maine - Museum in the Streets
Also see . . .
1. Old newspaper details 1903 Hilton House fire.
At the time of this fire, Wiscasset lost its only hotel, and historic building. According The Bath Independent, “For 125 years a hotel has stood on that corner and been conducted by Mr. Hubbard or his ancestors. The first hotel innkeeper there was Hilton Hubbard, a grandfather of the present Mr. Hubbard.” The hotel was well known and did a prosperous business especially during the summer, according to the article. There were 20 guests’ rooms in house all were well furnished. Hubbard considered the lost of the hotel at $10,000, however, the property was insured for not over $5,000. It is not known for sure what caused the fire, however, according to the report, printed in 1903; it is believed to have started in the attic from the chimney. (Submitted on April 8, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. The story of Wiscasset's Sunken Garden.
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. (Submitted on April 8, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. Wiscasset’s Sunken Garden.
Frances Sortwell had a wide and varied group of friends that included artists, academics, professionals, politicians, and many members of similar Gilded Age families through school and family connections. Miss Frances and her friends, including Rose Ishbel Greeley, one of the first female landscape architects in the country, transformed the dismal site of the total devastation of the Hilton House into a magical sunken garden and a place of tranquil beauty. Used by the Sortwell family for many years as a beloved private garden and unique outdoor entertainment space, the Sunken Garden was given to the Town of Wiscasset by Daniel Sortwell and Marion Sortwell Warland at Frances’ death in 1957. (Submitted on April 8, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 10, 2018. It was originally submitted on April 8, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 125 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 8, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.