Maine Historical Society and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Portland

4.4
#3 of 6 in Historic Sites in Portland
The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is an 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.HistoryThe 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. 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. 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. The Longfellows added today's third story in 1815.
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Maine Historical Society and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House Reviews
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  • Literary buffs will enjoy visiting the Wadsorth-Longfellow House and museum. It's fun to learn about the young life and history of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and imagine him there.  more »
  • I have always loved Wadsworth's poems so this was a must do for me. It was a step back in time for sure. Our guide was very well informed on the history of the house and the poet's family. It was a gr...  more »
  • Incredible to take the guided tour of one of Portland's famous residents. It was a great, short tour and you could picture how life was back in the 1800's. I think that this house was the first brick ...  more »
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  • Knowledgeable, friendly staff and beautifully preserved home full of authentic furniture and artifacts. Especially see the samplers on the wall. The bookstore was great, too, not just a gift shop but well stocked with Maine and Longfellow books.
  • This is a must see! Thank you to the Wonderful staff and to the Maine Historical Society!! What a jewel of a stop!!!
  • Love the Longfellow House, but once you've seen it once, there's really no need to go a second time. Frankly, we didn't find the membership very cost-effective -- you get access to the library, but unless you're interested in researching Maine genealogy, there's not much for the casual history buff that you can't readily find elsewhere. The dissemination of information regarding special exhibits and events also left a lot to be desired -- I often found out about them long before receiving the email newsletter, and the blog is only updated once a month or so. Go for the Longfellow House at least once, but avoid the annual membership fees.
  • $8 for adults or $7 if you're a AAA member for the museum, this didn't include a tour of the house. The museum includes great photos and lithographs from the inception of Portland Maine until today. You also get access to a historical photo collection next door which contains some great early photos of the city and its residents. There is a great little garden behind the house that's free to visitors.
  • Adjacent to the Maine Historical Society building, the Longfellow house is accessible only via an hour-long guided tour. Admission to the tour is $10 with a AAA discount, which also grants you access to a small civil war museum with highlights on Maine's involvement in the war. Our tour guide was Terri, who was clearly well-versed (pun intended) on Wadsworth Longfellow's poetry, slinging a few rhymes throughout our tour. She always had a smile on her face and was genuinely interested in the history of the house and of the surrounding area. Maybe not a "must-do" but it's certainly a destination that's unique to Portland, and a great way to toss in some history amongst a day of shopping and dining around beautiful Portland.

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You'll discover a number of hotels in Portland's waterfront area--one of the city's liveliest neighborhoods--that offer proximity to a selection of restaurants and bars. If bed and breakfasts are more your style, look to the city's West End, where a number of establishments sit alongside fine 19th-century mansions. Those interested in staying in Munjoy Hill can find a number of vacation rentals there.
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