Sarah Orne Jewett Walking Tour
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Written by Old Berwick Historical


South Berwick residents are nervous. The village so familiar to poet Sarah Orne Jewett is slowly changing. Today it looks much as the 19th century poet saw it, but progress is knocking at the door. This new brochure offers a one-hour reminder of the historic charm that makes this town unique.





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History by the Foot in South Berwick

jewett_walking_tour.jpgA new self-guided walking tour brochure has been created to lead South Berwick residents and visitors down streets, past shops, houses, and other nineteenth-century sites prominent in the life of author Sarah Orne Jewett.

Written by the Jewett-Eastman Memorial Committee, a citizens’ group that maintains and manages Jewett’s 1854 home as the South Berwick Public Library, the brochure seeks to welcome and inform visitors and to draw local citizens downtown. It is available free at local businesses and municipal buildings.

"The tour invites visitors to stroll through this river town, as Jewett beckoned readers up its elm-lined streets in her fiction. We wanted to encourage walking traffic in the historic center at a time when South Berwick is working to revitalize," said JEM member Nina Maurer.

Illustrated with historic photos and a newly drawn map, the brochure leads strollers to 17 sites in a mile-long course through the center of town. Sites include the house where the author was born in 1849, along with places where she lived, wrote, shopped, studied, worshipped, gardened, rowed on the river, visited relatives, and was finally laid to rest in 1909. The tour can be walked in about an hour.

Much of South Berwick’s village center still looks at it did in Jewett’s lifetime, though the businesses have changed. The Jewett Store on Portland Street, selling imported cloth and dry goods, is now The Little Hat Company, selling polar-fleece hats and children’s toys. Jewett’s stories, novels, and poems--over 300 in all--are largely based on people and places in South Berwick and the surrounding area.

"South Berwick is fortunate to have a rich architectural heritage," Maurer said. "The working lives of generations of townspeople are preserved in every block, where we buy groceries, visit the library, meet, and dine."

The brochure includes brief histories of the Jewetts and South Berwick as well as site captions. Museums on the tour include the Sarah Orne Jewett House in the center of the village and the Hamilton House on the Salmon Falls River, both National Historic Landmarks operated as museums by Historic New England, and the Counting House Museum at the old Quamphegan Landing.

The walking tour project was supported by donations from Julia’s Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Kennebunk Savings Bank, Lassel Architects, Historic New England, and the Old Berwick Historical Society.

JEM Committee members Margaret Brentano and Nina Maurer compiled the text using historical information from the Old Berwick Historical Society, Historic New England, and the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project.

For more information please call Nina Maurer at 207-384-0061