- Longfellow National Historic Site
Infobox Protected area
name = Longfellow National Historic Site
iucn_category = V
locator_x = 268
locator_y = 46
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
nearest_city = Cambridge, MA
lat_degrees = 42
lat_minutes = 22
lat_seconds = 36
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 71
long_minutes = 07
long_seconds = 35
long_direction = W
area = 2 acres (8,093 m²)
visitation_num = 36,660
visitation_year = 2005
October 9, 1972
National Park ServiceThe Longfellow National Historic Site, also known as the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House, is a historic site located at 105 Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusettsthat was for almost fifty years the home of noted American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. For a time, it had previously served as the headquarters of George Washington.
=Early history= The mid-Georgian house was built in 1759 for Loyalist John Vassall [Calhoun, Charles C. "Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life". Boston: Beacon Press, 2004: 124. ISBN 0807070262.] who made it his summer residence with his wife Elizabeth (Oliver) and children until 1774. On the eve of the American Revolution in September 1774, they fled Boston.Levine, Miriam. "A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England". Cambridge, Massachusetts: Apple-wood Press, 1984: 124. ISBN 0-918222-51-6]
Colonel John Glover and the Marblehead Regiment occupied the house as their temporary barracks in June 1775,Harris, John. "Historic Walks in Cambridge". Chester, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 1986: 208. ISBN 0-87106-899-0] followed by General
George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the newly-formed Continental Army. Washington used the home as his headquarters and home while he planned the Siege of Bostonbetween July 1775 and April 1776. During his time there, Washington was visited by John Adamsand Abigail Adams, Benedict Arnold, Henry Knox, and Nathaniel Greene. [Calhoun, Charles C. "Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life". Boston: Beacon Press, 2004: 125. ISBN 0807070262.] Martha Washingtonjoined her husband in December 1775 and the two stayed in the house until March 1776. On Twelfth Nightin January 1776, the couple celebrated their wedding anniversary in the home. Nathaniel Tracy, who had made a great fortune as one of the earliest and most successful privateers under Washington, owned the house from 1781-1786, after which he went bankrupt and sold the house to Thomas Russell, a wealthy Boston merchant who in turn occupied it until 1791.
Andrew Craigie bought the house in 1791. Craigie, the first
Apothecary Generalof the American army, added the two side piazzas and the two-story back ell and also expanded the library into a twenty by thirty foot ballroom with its own entrance. [Levine, Miriam. "A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England". Cambridge, Massachusetts: Apple-wood Press, 1984: 124–125. ISBN 0-918222-51-6] In that ballroom, Craigie hosted Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the father of Queen Victoria.Harris, John. "Historic Walks in Cambridge". Chester, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 1986: 209. ISBN 0-87106-899-0] While living in the home, he married the daughter of a Nantucket clergyman, 22-year old Elizabeth Craigie, 17 years her elder. Craigie died in 1819, leaving his wife Elizabeth in great debt; Mrs. Craigie took in boarders to support herself.Wagenknecht, Edward. "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Portrait of an American Humanist". New York: Oxford University Press, 1966: 7] Short-term residents of the home included Jared Sparks, Edward Everett, and Joseph Emerson Worcester. [Brooks, Van Wyck. "The Flowering of New England". New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1952: 153]
Longfellow moved to Cambridge to take a job at
Harvard Collegeas Smith Professor of Modern Languages and of Belles Lettres. [Williams, Cecil B. "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow". New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1964: 72–73] He first rented rooms on the east side of the home's second floor in the summer of 1837. At first, Mrs. Craigie thought he was a student at Harvard and refused to rent to him until he convinced her that he was a professor as well as the author of the book she was reading, " Outre-Mer". [Wagenknecht, Edward. "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Portrait of an American Humanist". New York: Oxford University Press, 1966: 6–7] The first major works Longfellow composed in the home were "Hyperion", a prose romance likely inspired by his pursuit for the affections of Frances Appleton, and "Voices of the Night", a poetry collection which included " A Psalm of Life".
After Elizabeth Craigie's death, however, the house was purchased by
Nathan Appleton, who gave the house to Longfellow as a wedding gift when Longfellow married Nathan's daughter, Frances in 1843. [Wilson, Susan. "Literary Trail of Greater Boston". Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 109. ISBN 0-618-05013-2] Longfellow lived in the house for the next four decades, producing many of his most famous poems including "Paul Revere's Ride" and " The Village Blacksmith". [Haas, Irvin. "Historic Homes of American Authors". Washington, DC: The Preservation Press, 1991: 93. ISBN 0891331808.] In all, while living in this house, Longfellow published eleven poetry collections, two novels, three epic poems, and several plays as well as a translation of Dante Alighieri's " Divine Comedy". [Irmscher, Christoph. "Longfellow Redux". University of Illinois, 2008: 8. ISBN 9780252030635.]
Once he owned the house, Longfellow deliberately moved his bedroom to the same bedroom used by George Washington.Wilson, Susan. "Literary Trail of Greater Boston". Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 110. ISBN 0-618-05013-2] Longfellow oversaw the creation of a
lyre-shaped garden and his wife oversaw decorating the interior. They installed central heating in 1850 and gaslight in 1853.Levine, Miriam. "A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England". Cambridge, Massachusetts: Apple-wood Press, 1984: 125. ISBN 0-918222-51-6] During their time in the house, the Longfellows hosted famous artists, writers, politicians and other luminaries who were attracted to Longfellow's hospitality and fame. Specific visitors included Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackery, singer Jenny Lind, and actress Fanny Kemble.Levine, Miriam. "A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England". Cambridge, Massachusetts: Apple-wood Press, 1984: 126. ISBN 0-918222-51-6] The couple also raised their three daughters and two sons in the home.
Longfellow often wrote in his first-floor study, formerly Washington's office, surrounded by portraits of his friends, including charcoal portrats by
Eastman Johnsonof Charles Sumner, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Cornelius Conway Felton. Longfellow would write either at the center table, at the desk, or in the armchair by the fire.
Fanny Longfellow died in the home in June 1861 as a result her dress accidently catching fire; her husband attempted to quell the flames, managing to keep her face from burning. [Levine, Miriam. "A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England". Cambridge, Massachusetts: Apple-wood Press, 1984: 127. ISBN 0-918222-51-6] Longfellow himself was burned on his own face and was scarred badly enough that he began growing a beard to hide it.
After Longfellow's death in 1882, ownership of the house passed to Longfellow's children. His daughter,
Alice Longfellow, commissioned two of America's first female landscape architects, Martha Brookes Hutchesonand Ellen Biddle Shipman, to redesign the formal garden in the Colonial Revivalstyle.
Preservation and current use
In 1913, the surviving Longfellow children established the Longfellow House Trust to preserve the home as well as its view to the
Charles River.Harris, John. "Historic Walks in Cambridge". Chester, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 1986: 210. ISBN 0-87106-899-0] Their intention was to preserve the home as a memorial to Longfellow and Washington and to showcase the property as a "prime example of Georgian architecture".
In 1962, the trust successfully lobbied for the house to become a national historic landmark. In 1972, the Trust donated the property to the National Park Service and it became the Longfellow National Historic Site and is now open to the public. On display are many of the original nineteenth century furnishings, artwork, over 10,000 books owned by Longfellow, and the dining table around which many important visitors gathered.Wilson, Susan. "Literary Trail of Greater Boston". Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 111. ISBN 0-618-05013-2] Everything on display was owned by the Longfellow family.
The site also possesses some 750,000 original documents relevant to the former occupants of the home. [ [http://www.nps.gov/long/historyculture/archives.htm Longfellow National Historic Site Archives] , accessed
July 10, 2008] These archives are open to scholarly research by appointment.
Across the street from the Longfellow National Historic Site is the municipal park known as Longfellow Park. In the middle sits a memorial by sculptor
Daniel Chester Frenchdedicated in 1914. In addition to a bust of the poet, a carved bas-reliefby Henry Bacondepicts the famous characters Miles Standish, Sandalphon, the village blacksmith, the Spanish student, Evangeline, and Hiawatha.
For a time, Longfellow's home was one of the most-photographed and most recognizable homes in the United States.
Sears, Roebuck and Companysold scaled-down blueprints of the home so that anyone could build their own version of Longfellow's home. One such 2/3-scale replica of the house, simply called Longfellow House, also exists in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Originally built by businessman Robert "Fish" Jones, it currently serves as an information center for the Minneapolis Park System and is on the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. Several other replicas of Longfellow's home appear throughout the United States.
Wadsworth-Longfellow Housein Portland, Maine
* [http://www.nps.gov/long/ Longfellow National Historic Site official website]
* [http://www.npca.org/ National Parks Conservation Association]
* [http://www.npca.org/across_the_nation/park_pulse/ State of the Parks]
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