When This Maine Hotel Burned Down in 1903 the Rubble Was Turned Into Something Beautiful
Along Main Street in the Prettiest Village in Maine, just below ground level, is a storybook garden built in the foundation of an old hotel. The Sunken Garden is a curious attraction for tourists and locals alike, but do you know the full history of this hidden treasure?
From the Wiscasset Newspaper: "After Wiscasset's Hilton House Hotel burned to the ground in 1903, Gertrude and Frances Sortwell, whose family owned the house across the street, put the hotel's stone foundation to good use. Miss Frances and her friends, including Rose Ishbel Greeley, one of the first female landscape architects in the country, transformed the dismal site into a beautiful and tranquil sunken garden."
The garden's designer Frances Sortwell became known as one of Wiscasset's best preservationists. In addition to the Sunken Garden, she restored eight historic homes and several public buildings in town. Frances also founded the Wiscasset Public Library. Frances eventually gave the Sunken Garden to the town of Wiscasset for public use.
Learn more about the Nickels-Sortwell House, the Sunken Garden, and Wiscasset's history at the Historic New England website.
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