Sarah Orne Jewett’s room remains essentially unchanged since her death in 1909.
Jewett filled the room with both functional items and those that held deep meaning for her.
An Intensely Personal Space
Sarah Orne Jewett’s bedroom was an intensely personal space—the mantel arranged with carefully chosen objects that held deep meaning to her.
Riding Crop (and Carriage Lantern)
Sarah Orne Jewett loved her horses and she loved riding, particularly the horse Sheila, of whom she wrote, “; I glory in her good spirits and I think she has a right to be proud and willful if she chooses.” (“October Ride,” 1881)
Sarah Orne Jewett was Christian. Raised in the Congregational Church, as a young adult, she converted to the Episcopal faith of her ancestral heritage.
Dating from about 1800-1810, this children’s pearlware mug with the lettering, “A Trifle Shews Respect,” could have been handed down in the family or purchased as an antique. Jewett had a childlike side to her personality and remarked to friend Sara Norton on her forty-eighth birthday, “Today is my birthday, and I am always 9 years old.”
Portrait of Annie Fields
Taken as a young woman. The love of Jewett’s life, Annie Fields most often stayed at her home in Boston or Manchester while Sarah was in South Berwick, and Sarah wrote often of missing her. Because of two mirrors strategically placed, the portrait can be seen from any angle in the room.
Landscape at Cortina
A scene from Italy’s Dolomite Mountains by Sarah Wyman Whitman, a dear friend of Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields. Wyman was an accomplished artist who designed nearly all of Jewett’s book covers. She also created the stained-glass iris in the home’s stair landing, as a gift to Jewett.
Silhouette, Theodore H. Jewett
This silhouette of Sarah’s father was taken when he was sixteen (in 1831) and at Bowdoin College. Sarah shared a close relationship with her father. Seventy years later, Jewett was the first woman to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at Bowdoin.
Delft earthenware, these hearth tiles, evoking those in the library, date to 1830-1840.
A sampler by Martha Pratt, dated 1800, may have appealed to Jewett’s love of childhood.
to learn more
Sarah’s Chest of Drawers
The chest and looking glass, both made in the late eighteenth or very early nineteenth century, suggest the world of accumulated family furnishings around which Sarah and Mary grew up. These would have provided tangible links to the generations of Jewetts, Ornes, Perrys, and Gilmans who proceeded them.
In later years, images of Jewett show her with eyeglasses, worn around her neck.
One of Sarah’s nicknames, given to her by close friend, artist Celia Thaxter, was Owl. Celia Thaxter’s nickname was Sandpiper.
Three Stuffed Toy Dogs
Dating from the time when or shortly after Sarah and Mary inherited the house. The Jewett family had a number of dogs, and Sarah had an affinity for them, from Joe, a childhood dog, to Jock, Crabby, and Roger, an Irish Setter she had with Annie Fields and seemed to especially dote on. Roger spent winters in Boston with Sarah and Annie.
Photograph, Jessie Cochrane
Jessie Cochrane was a gifted pianist who studied in Europe with Franz Liszt whom Annie Fields mentored. She was part of the Boston Coterie of artists who gathered often on Saturday afternoons at Fields’ Charles Street home in Boston.
Dating to 1880-90, the paper would have been installed by Sarah Orne Jewett for her new room after inheriting her grandfather’s house. The paper is a fleur de lis design. The olive-green color was a popular hue in the Arts and Crafts Movement style.
From this mirror, and a second placed in the room, Annie Fields' portrait on the mantel is reflected so that it can be seen at any vantage point in the room.
to learn more
Sarah Orne Jewett led an extraordinarily active life, despite a lifetime of suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. But there were times when her health required periods of rest and her bedroom provided a much needed sanctuary.
While Sarah was recuperating in bed, a bell pull, and later a buzzer, enabled her to call Katy or Mary Galvin when she needed something.
The mirror behind Sarah’s bed was strategically placed in a way that reflected the photograph of Annie on the opposite wall.
Without question the most influential person in Sarah’s childhood was her father who encouraged her love of the natural world and her talent as a story teller. It’s only fitting that she should keep a photograph of him on her bedside table.
to learn more