Is this your first time here?

Each day, Clio connects thousands of people to nearby culture and history. Our website and mobile app are free for everyone and designed to make it easy to discover cultural and historical sites throughout the United States. You can search for nearby sites, take a walking tour, create your own itinerary, or simply go for a walk or drive and let Clio show you nearby sites using our mobile app. Clio is non-profit and free for everyone thanks to the support of people like you. Donations are tax- deductible! Click here to learn more!

Wadsworth-Longfellow House

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (National Register of Historic Places)
A significant portion of Maine’s literary, political, and cultural history can all be found within the walls of the U.S. National Landmark, the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Built between 1785 and 1786 by General Peleg Wadsworth, the Longfellow House carries the proud role of being the first brick dwelling in Portland as well as the oldest standing structure on the Portland Peninsula.

One of the most important people associated with the Longfellow House is American poet Henry Longfellow, who gained international fame for his work, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” For over 35 years, Henry Longfellow grew up and worked in his family’s home. The last person to live there was Anne Longfellow Pierce (1819-1901), Henry's younger sister.

Mrs. Pierce would go on to live in the house until her death in 1901. According to a deed she executed in 1895, the house passed to the Maine Historical Society after her death to be preserved as a memorial to her famous brother and their family.

Nowadays, the Maine Historical Society operates a museum and archive within the historic Wadsworth–Longfellow House. The Museum's diverse collection features over 15,000 artifacts, and exhibits and galleries depict five centuries of life, history, and culture in Maine.


Photo Exterior View of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House
Photo Sitting Room within the House
Photo Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Portland, ca. 1880
Photo Front Hall of the House

History of the Wadsworth and Longfellow Families

Born in 1748, General Peleg Wadsworth was a prominent American officer in the Revolutionary War, and when the war was in full swing in 1780, Peleg was given command of all the troops raised in defense of the Province of Maine. 

After the war, Wadsworth bought 1.5 acres of land in 1784, where he built a store and then later the Wasworth-Longfellow House. Wadsworth and his wife had ten children, among them Henry Longfellow’s mother, Zilpah. 

Henry Longfellow was born in 1807 as the second of eight children from his mother, Zilpah, and father Stephen Longfellow. Henry’s actual birth house in Portland was demolished in 1955, though he spent his childhood and early-adult life in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. His first poem was published in the Portland Gazette in 1820.1 

The Wadsworth–Longfellow House and Gardens

Other than a third story added in 1815 and various internal design changes, the house hasn’t changed much. When handed over to the Maine Historical Society, preservation efforts were undertaken to restore the house to its 1850s look and appeal. 

Also, the Historical Society worked quickly to open the house as a museum and library. Henry Longfellow’s nephew and local architect Alexander Wadsworth helped renovate the house, and the library opened in 1907. By 1962, the house was designated as a National Historical Landmark, and four years later, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Visitors traveling to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House can discover a fascinating array of exhibits and artifacts pertaining to both the Longfellows as well as the 19th century Maine culture. Virtually all of the artifacts are completely original to the Longfellow and Wadsworth families, and many of the household furnishings showcases the cultural and technological changes as well as the common attitudes during the 19th century. 

Traveling through the house, visitors can explore the parlor, the sitting room, kitchen, and acclaimed Front Hall, all of which were continually inhabited by a multitude of both adults and children at that time (remember, General Wadsworth and his wife had ten kids, Henry Longfellow was the second out of eight siblings).

Behind the house, the secluded Colonial Revival Garden endures as an oasis of tranquility and natural beauty in the heart of downtown Portland. Created by the Longfellow Garden Club in 1926, the garden features stunning landscaping and meandering paths ideal for pleasant walks.2

Sources

1.) http://www.hwlongfellow.org/life_overview.shtml 2.) https://www.mainehistory.org/house_overview.shtml

Address
489 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
Phone Number
(207) 774–1822
Hours
Museum & Museum Store: Monday - Saturday: 10am–5pm Sunday (May - Oct): 12pm–5pm Brown Research Library Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Tags
  • African American History
  • Business and Economic Development
  • Colonial History
  • Cultural History
  • Ethnic History and Immigration
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Labor History
  • Native American History
  • Political and Diplomatic History
  • Urban History
  • Women’s History
  • State Historical Societies and Museums
This location was created on 2014-07-02 by Maria Gonzalez .   It was last updated on 2015-06-12 by Daniel Newcomer .

This entry has been viewed 310 times since January 2017

Comments

  • No comments found.

Join The Discussion

Only registered users can comment. Registration is completely free!

Login / Register