Reverend John Sergeant built this Georgian-style house in 1739, which remained in his family until 1879. By 1926, the structure was imperiled by neglect, and Mabel Choate, owner of the nearby estate, Naumkeag, purchased the house with the intention of restoring it. The house was disassembled and relocated to a half-acre, rectangular lot on the corner of Sergeant and Main Streets, where landscape architect Fletcher Steele worked with Choate to restore the structure and design the surrounding Colonial Revival gardens.
Steele’s four garden rooms that surround the house were influenced by George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The Dooryard Garden in the front is a formal space partially enclosed by a tidewater cypress fence and a dark purple-hued brick path that divides ornamental beds of perennials and herbs anchored by shrubs and trees. The Orchard Garden west of the house is traversed by crushed stone walks and contains neat rows of vegetables and small fruit trees. Low boxwood hedges and perennial borders define the geometrically-arranged garden spaces connected by winding paths. The Well Courtyard, a utilitarian space in the rear, positions benches beneath a grape arbor that connects the house to one-story frame building, while the East Lawn provides an open space.
The property was opened to the public in 1930 and donated to the Trustees of Reservations in 1948. In the 1960s, volunteer gardeners dramatically altered Steele’s original planting plan, but efforts to restore the garden have been undertaken by since 1990. The Mission House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968.