” The last day of October in 1777, Colonel Jonathan Hamilton came out of his high house on the river bank with a handsome, impatient company of guests, all Berwick gentlemen. They stood on the flagstones, watching a coming boat that was just within sight under the shadow of the pines of the farther shore, and eagerly passed from hand to hand a spyglass covered with worn red morocco leather. “
‘The Tory Lover’ by Sarah Orne Jewett (1901)
Hamilton House is another property of Historic New England. This beautiful house is situated overlooking a peaceful and very wide stretch of the Salmon Falls River, just a couple of miles outside the town of South Berwick, Maine. It wasn’t always like this. When it was built in 1785 Jonathan Hamilton’s graceful Georgian home overlooked his busy shipping and ship building business and quayside.
The decor of the house today reflects the more recent ownership of Emily Tyson and her stepdaughter Elise. The Tysons made it their summer retreat during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This “Colonial Revival” style characterises the house today. Again no photography is allowed inside but it’s a large, light and airy summer house with breathtaking painted murals on the walls of the downstairs reception rooms. There are antiques, hooked rugs and other handcrafted decorative arts in all rooms.
The house has limited opening hours but the beautiful garden is free for all to visit and admire daily from dawn to dusk.
Sayward-Wheeler House is in York Harbor and like The Hamilton House stands on a bank above a wide river – in this case the York River.
On the obligatory house tour we are told that this house is unique amongst all 36 Historic New England properties in that it is the least changed over the centuries with virtually all its original furnishings, including wall coverings, in tact. The most curious room in the house is the Parlour where the larger items of furniture (that can be dated back to when the house was built) never fitted properly! A clock has had its finials removed, a cabinet, too tall for the room, had its pediment removed and it’s always been a mystery as to how the sideboard ever got into the room in the first place – by its dimensions it could not fit through any of the room’s doorways in any direction!