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The Forgotten Founders of Hotel Wentworth

 

 

Sarah Campbell and probably Charles Campbell (c) SeacoastNH.com, courtesy Campbell Family

It all really began in 1803 when Allen Porter, a tailor working at Fort Constitution in New Castle married Margaret Gibbs Appleton Maloon, The couple settled into a house near the fort on the west side of Wentworth Road where they also ran a little store. It was their daughter Sarah and her husband Charles Ellsworth Campbell, a local man, who first owned and managed the hotel.

But the Porter’s land and the Campbell’s hotel experience wasn’t enough to expand their cottage industry. They needed money, at least $50,000 to build the original Wentworth. Details are still fuzzy, but it is safe to speculate that Sarah and Charles met their investor, Daniel E. Chase, when he stayed at their summer cottage. The name "Ned Chase" appears in a surviving leather-bound guest book from Campbell Cottage. The Chases, one local historian says, were related to Sarah’s side of the family. But mixing blood and money was a risky cocktail.

Campbell Family Cottage, New CAstle (c) SeacoastNh.com from Campbell Family

Born in Warner, NH, Daniel Chase had become a wealthy rum distiller in Massachusetts. The Campbells’ wealthy relative agreed to back the project – and why not? Rooms on the seacoast were so hard to come by in summer, according to a Portsmouth newspaper report, that tourists were lucky to find a place to sleep on a hotel veranda or under a pool table. The Sagamore Hotel had just opened across the bay in Rye at Odiorne Point, although it burned four years later and has long been forgotten. Wooden hotels were popping up at the beaches in Hampton and Rye and in nearby York, Kittery and Ogunquit, Maine.

It is fair to speculate that Charles Campbell proposed his idea for a grand hotel to Chase -- or vice versa -- on a perfect summer afternoon in New Castle. Both men were loyal masons and the two "brothers" may have hiked up from Campbell Cottage to the top of the bluff to catch a spectacular sunset. Perhaps they climbed a tree to glimpse the now famous view from the Wentworth window. If they didn’t build a hotel there, they knew, someone else would.

CONTINUE with CAMPBELL HISTORY

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