Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland

Text by John Mayer and Dana Twiss

Images from Maine Historical Society, Longfellow National Historic Park, and Maine Maritime Museum

Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Portland, ca. 1890

Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Portland, ca. 1890

Item Contributed by
Maine Maritime Museum

"…but happier is he whose heart rides quietly at anchor in the peaceful haven of home."

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to his parents, 1826)

The Wadsworth-Longfellow house is the oldest building on the Portland peninsula, the first historic site in Maine, a National Historic Landmark, and the boyhood home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

These distinctions give the building status and significance.

The house also has a very personal history.

For nearly 120 years, from 1786 to 1901, it was home to three generations of Wadsworth and Longfellow family members, a place where they raised their families and experienced many life events that are common to us all.

Bird's eye view of the city of Portland, 1876

Bird's eye view of the city of Portland, 1876

Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society

This exhibit draws from a study of the Wadsworth-Longfellow property, the Longfellow garden, and the properties that surround the site.

The many features on the property – the house, the well, even plant material – provide evidence and a connection to the people who actively shaped this landscape.

This online exhibit is based on a museum exhibit at Maine Historical Society. It opened on June 27, 2014. Museum Curator John Mayer curated the exhibit, assisted by Dana Twiss.

The exhibit sponsors were: Davis Family Foundation, BHA Foundation Fund, The Phineas W. Sprague Memorial Foundation, Elsie A. Brown Fund, and gifts in Memory of Elizabeth Hamill.