About the Property
Once part of the 18th-century farm of royal Governor Benning Wentworth, this coastal hideaway borders the shoreline of tidal Sagamore Creek. You’ll find remnants of the old estate, including Creek Farm Cottage built in 1887 now used by the Shoals Marine Lab for research. The short trail around the property follows the shoreline past a canoe/kayak launch and a man-made tidal pool. At low tide, you can walk across the connecting strip of land to Goose Island. If you come to paddle, haul your craft across the lawn to the put-in, then head left toward Portsmouth harbor for views of the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion and Wentworth by the Sea Hotel. Or go up Sagamore Creek and stop by BG’s Boat House for a lobster roll.
One of the most entertaining ways to fish for striped bass in the salt water is from a kayak. There’s no guarantee you’ll hook into a large fish, but if you do, a mini-version of what is called the “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is lots of fun. A larger striper can pull you around the salt creeks and inland bays near Creek Farm for a few minutes of fun and laughs.
Creek Farm has extensive frontage on Sagamore Creek, a salt creek that flows in and out with the tides. You can access a lot of interesting water from the kayak and canoe launch at Creek Farm (carry your boat from the public parking area the 200 yards to the launch.) If the fishing is slow, there is still lots to see either paddling “upstream” to the salt marshes at the Urban Forestry Center, or “downstream” toward the Wentworth by the Sea hotel, or Leaches and Pest Islands. If you go at mid-tide, you can paddle under the Rye/New Castle Bridge and take a break on the bayside beaches of Odiorne State Park.
Goose Island Trail
The trail at Creek Farm Reservation offers a short but scenic walk over level terrain. The trail from the parking area proceeds toward the waterfront along Sagamore Creek. A right at the first fork will bring you to a carry-in canoe/kayak access. The Goose Island trail passes through woods, fields, and a pear orchard to views of Goose Island, Wentworth Coolidge Historic Site, and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Return to the parking area along the same trail.
The Creek Farm Cottage, other structures and wharf are operated by Cornell University’s Shoals Marine Lab and are not open to the public.
The Sagamore Creek area holds significant agricultural heritage. In fact, the site of Creek Farm, believed to have been occupied by early settler Nicholas Rowe in 1640, was one of the earliest places in New Hampshire to be cultivated. It was later part of the 18th-century farm of the royal governor of NH, Benning Wentworth. Some of the fieldstone boundary walls that can be observed now crossing the property define ancient property lines that were recorded on early maps of the area.
The main house and grounds, for which Creek Farm’s history is notable, were created beginning in 1888 for Arthur Astor Carey, a leader in New England’s cultural and artistic life. He purchased 40 acres of the original Benning Wentworth farm for a summer home and commissioned Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, the nephew of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, to design it. Creek Farm served as a focal point for artists summering at the Seacoast and also hosted delegates to the Portsmouth Peace Treaty in 1905, ending the Russo-Japanese War.
In 1957 Lillian and Chester Noel purchased the property from the Carey family. Shortly after her husband’s death in 1997, Lillian “Billie” Noel granted a conservation easement on the property on all but the house and five acres to the state of New Hampshire. In September of 2000, she conveyed the entire property at a bargain sale to the Forest Society, with the intent that it remain as a conservation area in perpetuity. The house is currently leased to the Shoals Marine Laboratory, a collaborative program of Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire.The property serves as a tree farm, bird sanctuary and wildlife reservation.
We are grateful to Billie for making this tremendous gift of open space and for all who contributed toward its purchase.