Marrett House (1789)

Experience a New England classic

Standish, Maine

In 1796 Daniel Marrett, a recent Harvard graduate, moved to Standish, Maine, to become the town minister. He bought the most imposing house in town to reflect his status as the community’s leading citizen. Three generations of Marretts remained there for nearly 150 years. Marrett House is a classic example of the “big house, little house, back house, barn” configuration, with the house and all service buildings connected.

In the mid-1800s the Marretts enlarged and updated the house but left unchanged many furnishings and interior arrangements as relics of the past. The southwest parlor was redecorated on the occasion of a family wedding, and remains preserved with original Victorian wallpaper, carpet, and furnishings. Each room in Marrett House showcases treasured possessions of the family, including pewter, ceramics, and textiles from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. An early twentieth-century perennial garden is located beside the house.

Plan Your Visit

Location

40 Ossipee Trail East Route 25
Standish, Maine 04084

Days & Hours

First and third Saturdays
June 1 – October 15
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Tours on the hour.

Admission

$8 adults

$7 seniors

$4 students

Free to Historic New England members and Standish residents.

Directions

Take I-95 to Exit 48. Follow Route 25 west for about 13 miles to the center of Standish. Marrett House is on the right.

Parking

Street parking is available along Route 25 West and in front of the house.

Contact Information

Marrett House Exterior

Built in 1789, Marrett House is a classic example of a "big house, little house, back house, barn."

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  • Marrett House Exterior

    Built in 1789, Marrett House is a classic example of a "big house, little house, back house, barn."

  • Parlor

    This parlor is one of Historic New England’s most intact original rooms. The Marretts only used it for their most formal entertaining.

  • Sitting Room

    This well-preserved room reflects the Marretts' reverence for their family history.

  • Children's Chamber

    The children's toys that remain in this room include a very special rocking horse (c. 1857) made by Herman & Co. of Boston.

1-marretthouse_historyDaniel Marrett

In 1796 Reverend Daniel Marrett moved with his young wife Mary from Lexington, Massachusetts, to Standish, Maine, to become the new town parson. He purchased the handsome Federal-style house, built in 1789 for his predecessor, who had died unexpectedly. Daniel and Mary settled down and began raising their family. In eighteenth-century rural Maine, the minister was by far the most important man in town. The minister’s income was supposed to come from taxes imposed on the town’s citizens and regular gifts of foodstuffs. As was often the case, Marrett found that he could not support his growing family on that meager income, so he turned to another of his interests, pomology. In addition to his work ministering to the citizens of Standish, Daniel Marrett operated a large apple orchard. He became the leading pioneer of grafting in Maine. Daniel Marrett is also credited with introducing the first cooking stove in Standish.

Mary Marrett died in 1810, leaving Daniel a widower with six children between the ages of two and thirteen. By 1812 the forty–seven-year-old minister had married again, this time to twenty-seven-year-old Dorcas Hastings. Not only did she enthusiastically mother Daniel’s children, but she and Daniel would have eight more children over the next fifteen years. The back room on the second floor of Marrett House was divided into several much smaller spaces to accommodate all the children.

1-marretthouse_historyAvery Marrett

Daniel and Dorcas’s eldest son Lorenzo graduated from Bowdoin College and became a successful lawyer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their third son, Avery, inherited Marrett House and the family apple business on the death of his father in 1836. Avery was a savvy businessman as well as a successful orchard manager. He quickly set about updating the house both inside and out. In 1847 he married Elizabeth Weston, also the child of a minister, in the newly redecorated and refurnished parlor at Marrett House. They had seven children, six of whom lived to adulthood.

Avery’s commercial success enabled him to update the Federal house in the fashionable Greek Revival style. He raised the roof three feet to install a classic entablature. He added Greek Revival trim and details to not only the main house, but also the large new attached barn, wood shed, and ell.

In 1889 the extended Marrett family gathered for an elaborate commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the building of the house. Rooms were decorated with pine boughs in the Colonial Revival style. There was a printed program of activities. Frances Marrett even wrote a poem for the occasion that was printed and distributed.

2-parlor_historyCaroline and Helen Marrett

Reverence for the past and family history was carried on by Avery’s daughters. Caroline Marrett inherited Marrett house when Avery died in 1894. Her two surviving brothers had left Standish to pursue educations and careers. Caroline, Helen, and Frances were each accomplished women in their own ways, but did not marry. Helen became a teacher and was Preceptress of Gorham Farm Academy, which became the University of Southern Maine. Caroline was the true manager of the estate. She ran the farm and established the large Colonial Revival garden next to the house. An avid gardener, she was a self-taught botanist and naturalist who became known as an expert on the various types of lilies.

Avery’s daughters preserved the Marrett House parlor exactly as it was in 1847. The parlor that had been her parents’ pride as an example of their modernity had become a relic of a treasured past for Caroline and her three sisters. Joined by their sister Mary after the death of her husband in 1930, the sisters proudly continued the noblesse oblige tradition. When electricity came to the area in the 1930s, Marrett House was the first building to be illuminated. Caroline and Helen invited the whole town to come and observe the first demonstration of this modern marvel.

Caroline Marrett was one of the early members of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England. It was her decision to donate Marrett House and all its furnishings to Historic New England to be run as a house museum. The sisters, including Frances, spent considerable time and resources organizing and preserving the house as they wished it to be presented.

keller_letterFrances Marrett

When Caroline died in 1944, the youngest Marrett sister inherited both the house and the job of preparing it for new life as a house museum. Frances had lived a sophisticated life in Boston. She was a teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind, where Helen Keller was one of her favorite pupils. Frances and her lifelong friend and fellow teacher Sarah Lilley shared an apartment in Boston. The two left mementos and descriptions of their special trip to Europe for the celebration of the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century.

1-marretthouse_historyBecoming a Museum

Frances Marrett died in 1944, having readied the house according to her sister Caroline’s wishes, leaving it to Historic New England. Sarah Lilley was given a life tenancy and became the first tour guide at Marrett House. Today, we delight in sharing the stories of this lively and remarkable family, and welcome visitors to this multi-layered home with its barns and beautiful garden, an example of “Yankee” family pride and tradition.

Property FAQs

Find out about accessibility, photography policy, and more.

Learn More
  • Can I park at the museum? Is there street parking?

    Yes. There are parking spaces on the street in front of the house.

  • Are there restrooms at Marrett House?

    There is a portable restroom next to the barn.

  • Is the museum accessible to people with disabilities?

    A tour of any Historic New England property requires a considerable amount of standing and some walking. Marrett House has not been equipped with accessible ramps, elevators, or chair lifts. Folding chairs can be provided for visitors who would like to use them during a tour. We are glad to offer guests a visual tour of the museum. Visitors with limited mobility may be able to enjoy a first-floor tour of the house and grounds. Service animals are always welcome. We encourage visitors with concerns to call ahead. We are happy to work with you to make your visit an enjoyable one.

  • Can I take photographs at the museum?

    Interior and exterior photography for personal use is allowed at Historic New England properties. For the safety and comfort of our visitors and the protection of our collections and house museums, we ask that you be aware of your surroundings and stay with your guide. Video, camera bags, tripods, and selfie sticks are not permitted. Professional/commercial photographers and members of the media should visit the press room for more information.

  • How can I book a group tour? What is the cost?

    The cost for a group tour of ten or more is $1 off the regular admission price. Call 207-882-7169 or email Marrett House staff.

  • Do we need to take a tour or can we just look around?

    All visitors to the house receive a guided tour.

  • How do I become a member of Historic New England and get more involved?

    Join Historic New England now and help preserve the region’s heritage. Call 617-994-5910 or join online.

  • When was Marrett House built?

    1789

  • Who built it?

    The house was built by Benjamin Titcomb. Daniel Marrett, the first minister of Standish, Maine, purchased and moved into the house in 1797.

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