Wadsworth-Longfellow House

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Wadsworth-Longfellow House
Wadsworth-Longfellow House Front.JPG
The entrance to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House
Wadsworth-Longfellow House is located in Maine
Wadsworth-Longfellow House
Wadsworth-Longfellow House is located in the US
Wadsworth-Longfellow House
Location 489 Congress St
Portland, Maine
Coordinates 43°39′25″N 70°15′37″W / 43.65693°N 70.26020°W / 43.65693; -70.26020Coordinates: 43°39′25″N 70°15′37″W / 43.65693°N 70.26020°W / 43.65693; -70.26020
Architect Peleg Wadsworth
NRHP Reference # 66000090[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NHL December 29, 1962[2]

The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is a historic house and museum in Portland, Maine, United States. It is located at 489 Congress Street and is operated by the Maine Historical Society. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, and administratively added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The house is open daily to public from May through October (half days on Sundays). An admission fee is charged.


The house has both historical and literary importance, as it is both the oldest standing structure on the Portland peninsula and the childhood home of famous American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).

American Revolutionary War General Peleg Wadsworth built the house in 1785–1786, the first wholly brick dwelling in Portland.[3] Wadsworth raised ten children in the two-story structure with a pitched roof before retiring to the family farm in Hiram, Maine, in 1807. His daughter Zilpah and her husband Stephen Longfellow IV were married in the house.

Their son, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was born nearby at the home of an aunt, Stephen's sister, on February 27, 1807. The home was a three-story Federal architecture-style home at the corner of Fore and Hancock Streets.[4] Young Longfellow did not move with his parents to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House until he was eight months old, but spent the next 35 years there.[5] The Longfellows added today's third story in 1815.


Anne Longfellow Pierce (1810–1901) was the last family member to live in the house. She deliberately kept the house much as it was in Peleg Wadsworth's time, but is perhaps best remembered for growing oranges in the window (no small feat in a Maine winter).[6] Her will stipulated that the house, lot, and many furnishings be given to the Maine Historical Society upon her death.

Pierce died in 1901 and the Maine Historical Society opened the home to the public within a year. At the time, only one other American author's home was owned by an organization committed to its preservation, specifically the John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead in Haverhill, Massachusetts.[7]

Postcard showing the house

Longfellow Garden[edit]

Entrance to the Alice Carroll and John Marshall Brown Library, located behind the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, is operated by the Maine Historical Society.

Pearl Wing started the Longfellow Garden Club in 1924 to establish the Longfellow Garden located alongside the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. The Longfellow Garden Club engaged landscape architect Myron Lamb to design the Colonial Revival style Longfellow Garden located in what was once part of the Longfellow family farmyard. The garden was replanted in 2007 after renovations to Maine Historical Library. A lilac tree mentioned by Anne Longfellow is located in the back corner alongside the library.[8]

A Children’s Gate designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, nephew of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was installed in the 1930s. The gate was removed in the 1960s and restored in 2012.[8]

The Longfellow Garden is open to the public at no charge Monday-Saturday from May–October from 10 AM to 5 PM.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Wadsworth-Longfellow House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  3. ^ Haas, Irvin. Historic Homes of American Authors. Washington, DC: The Preservation Press, 1991. ISBN 0-89133-180-8. p. 69.
  4. ^ Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004: 5. ISBN 0-8070-7026-2.
  5. ^ Haas, Irvin. Historic Homes of American Authors. Washington, DC: The Preservation Press, 1991. ISBN 0-89133-180-8. p. 70.
  6. ^ Portland Historical Society
  7. ^ Sweeting, Adam W. "Preserving the Renaissance: Literature and Publivc Memory in the Homes of Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Poe", American Studies. 46:1 (Spring 2005): 23.
  8. ^ a b "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: The Longfellow Garden". www.hwlongfellow.org. Retrieved 2016-02-15. 

External links[edit]