From 1951 through the 1970s, visitors to Sarah Orne Jewett House were greeted by South Berwick native Elizabeth Hayes Goodwin (1895-1992). Miss Goodwin was hostess at Jewett House, giving tours several days a week during the summer months and serving as live-in caretaker from an apartment in the back ell. Goodwin, who had known Jewett when she was a girl, had a deep devotion to the house and to sharing it with the public. “For some lucky visitors…a tour of the house ends with tea in Miss Goodwin’s own living room, once the Jewett kitchen,” wrote Marie Donahue in a 1977 article for Down East Magazine. “There are several mementos given by the Jewetts to the Goodwin family, including, in a place of honor, a miniature yellow tea set which Miss Goodwin as a child received from Sarah.”
In 1972 Historic New England honored Miss Goodwin for her many years of service at the house by dedicating the breakfast room to her. A plaque still hangs in the room today alongside a portrait of Miss Goodwin by local portrait artist Al Brule.
The Greek Revival house of Sarah’s youth served as a community center for decades in the twentieth century and became South Berwick’s library in 1970. The house was deaccessioned by Historic New England in 1984 when a local group, the Jewett-Eastman Memorial Committee, formed to take care and ownership of the property. During the years when the house served as the town’s library, Historic New England acted as an adviser to the Jewett-Eastman Memorial Committee and held preservation easements protecting the property. By April 2012, the library had outgrown Jewett-Eastman House, and moved to a new home. This presented the opportunity for Historic New England to reacquire the property, which is now a visitor center for community art exhibitions and programming.