5 Places to Glimpse Wentworth by the Sea History
While this historic hotel on the New Hampshire Seacoast is far from dusty thanks to a multitude of modern updates, alluring period details still remain throughout the property – if you know where to look.
The spa features progressive therapies, like HydraFacials and treatment tables with built-in vibrational and sound-therapy systems. Seaside rooms and suites boast fresh, contemporary coastal designs with the latest and greatest amenities (bathrooms with walk-in showers, cozy sitting areas, fireplaces, and more). The on-site restaurant, Salt Kitchen & Bar, dishes out innovative, flavor-forward fare that has made it a superior Seacoast dining destination.
With details like these, Wentworth by the Sea more than makes for a modern retreat. Still, a long-winded history widely permeates this Gilded-Age hotel property, first erected on a seaside bluff in New Castle, New Hampshire in 1874. You see that first and foremost in the grand Victorian-era, wood-framed façade, layered with a wraparound porch and towering turrets. Of course, other period details pepper the property (which has been a member of the Historic Hotels of America since 2007), but, unless you’re a historian, you might not naturally zero in on them. Here are a few of our favorites to keep your eyes peeled for during your next visit. Think of it as a historical scavenger hunt.
It’s no secret that, in 1905, the hotel housed the Russian and Japanese delegations that negotiated the Treaty of Portsmouth to end the Russo-Japanese War. But what you might not know is that the hotel still has the wooden boat that shuttled delegates to sign the final treaty document at the nearby Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (just across the Piscataqua River). Named Truth, the 18-foot antique wooden boat sits on the veranda on the west side of the hotel.
Not much is known regarding how this particular eight-foot-tall mahogany timepiece arrived at the property – other than that it was first installed here in 1902 and has never left (likely because of how heavy it is!). Elaborately carved with winged griffins and standing guard at the front desk, it’s an R.J. Horner original, a company dating back to 1886 that created cases for some of the most sought-after grandfather clocks.
Located near the ground’s gardens, this tree was presented to Wentworth by the Sea in 2012 by the Japan-American Society of New Hampshire as a thank-you for hosting the 1905 Russo-Japanese War peace negotiations. Even more interesting, however, is that the tree is a descendant of the iconic cherry trees that accent the Tidal Basin in Washington DC, which were also a gift from the Japanese to the United States in 1912. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Location: Salt Kitchen & Bar
While there are multiple spaces to slink away to inside Salt Kitchen & Bar – including couches beside the fireplace or white leather banquettes based before the floor-to-ceiling bay windows that look out to the grounds – the most coveted spot is, undoubtedly, beneath the domed ceiling painted in an ornate 19th-century mural. Original to the hotel and depicting cherubs in a heavenly sky scene, it’s believed to have been painted by the same artist who also did the domed mural of the nearby Music Hall’s 1878 historic theater.
CABINET FILLED WITH CURIOSITIES
Location: Hallway off the Lobby
Located off the lobby, a glass-fronted hutch contains many relics and artifacts spanning the hotel’s 150 years, including old China used in the previous dining rooms, platters and crystalware, menus where seafood dishes only cost a few cents, and even bingo cards. One of our favorites are the antique brass and iron skeleton keys that were used to access the former guest rooms – a far cry from the RFID wristbands guests now use.