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A Tale of Two Houses: Mid-Coast Maine in the 1800s

Tale of Two Houses walking tour

Historic New England’s two properties in Wiscasset, Nickels-Sortwell House and Castle Tucker, were both built in 1807, during the town's most prosperous time. Both saw their first owner hit hard by Thomas Jefferson’s embargo of that year, both changed hands multiple times over the next decades, and both embraced the changing economy by becoming places for tourists to stay. By the turn of the twentieth century, Castle Tucker’s glory had faded as its residents lost their fortune, while Nickels-Sortwell House was a summer home for a prosperous family from away. In this history, economics, and architecture-focused program, students learn the impact historical events have on regular people, the ways they live, and the buildings they build.

The program includes a two part classroom pre-visit lesson in which students construct an interactive timeline of major local, regional, and national events during the nineteenth century and also learn the elements of three popular architectural styles of that time: Federal, Greek Revival, and Queen Anne Victorian.

During the field trip, students visit both houses and explore the ways events on the timeline impacted real people's lives. They also participate in a walking tour between Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House, identifying architectural styles along the way. In the Nickels-Sortwell barn, they construct their own house in one of the three styles, using paper and stickers printed with the different architectural elements.

Weekdays, April - October
Grades 3 - 5

Full Program Includes:

  • 1.5-hour classroom pre-visit lesson
  • 2.5-hour field trip

Maximum Group Size: 30 students


  • Up to 15 students: $75
  • 16 - 30 students: $150

Type of Program:
Field Trips, Summer Programs

Related Topics:
Architecture, Family, Slavery and Civil War

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A Tale of Two Houses: Mid-Coast Maine in the 1800s