AAA Editor Notes
Longfellow House, 489 Congress St., was built 1785-86 by Gen. Peleg Wadsworth, maternal grandfather of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was here that the curious blue-eyed boy turned celebrated poet spent his childhood years. Situated on about 1.5 acres on the back side of town, it was the first all-brick home in Portland, constructed in the neoclassical style with bricks barged from Philadelphia. The residence was originally a two-story structure; in 1815 a third story with seven rooms was added after an 1814 fire ruined the gable roof.
The brass knocker that greets you at the front door is the original. Upon crossing the threshold, you'll find a lovely blend of fixtures and décor from three different generations. An impressive collection of furniture, including a circa 1805 leather side chair and an 1808 high-post bed; portraits; records; and other personal possessions of the Longfellow and Wadsworth families have been preserved.
The last family member to reside in the house was Anne Longfellow Pierce, who died in 1901 and deeded the property to the Maine Historical Society. During an extensive 2.5-year restoration project that concluded in 2002, experts analyzed family photographs and letters as well as paint shades and wallpaper scraps in an attempt to reproduce the woodwork hues, wall coverings, drapery, carpets and upholstery that adorned the interior in the 1850s. Today the Longfellow House is the one remaining private residence in the now urbanized eastern section of Congress Street.
Guided tours are available. Time: Allow 1 hour minimum.