Keywords: Old homes
The Wadsworth-Longfellow house is the oldest building on the Portland peninsula, the first historic site in Maine, a National Historic Landmark, home to three generations of Wadsworth and Longfellow family members -- including the boyhood home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The history of the house and its inhabitants provide a unique view of the growth and changes of Portland -- as well as of the immediate surroundings of the home.
Women at the turn of the 20th century were increasingly involved in paid work outside the home. For wage-earning women in the Old Port section of Portland, the jobs ranged from canning fish and vegetables to setting type. A study done in 1907 found many women did not earn living wages.
Young men and women in the 19th century often went away from home -- sometimes for a few months, sometimes for longer periods -- to attend academies, seminaries, or schools run by individuals. While there, they wrote letters home, reporting on boarding arrangements and coursework undertaken, and inquired about the family at home.
The younger John Martin visited Ellsworth as an adult, with his mother, and re-created the home that she lost after her husband died.