Visit a museum or historical monument every Monday and broaden your homeschool horizons. This week: the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, Maine.
Every Monday we pay a virtual visit to a notable museum or historical monument in the United States, all in keeping with our comfortable philosophy of “teaching with-out the curriculum.” Spend a few minutes exploring the place online with your students, look up its location your atlas (riverhouses.org/books), learn a new name or a new date, and your little lesson is done. Over the course of the year, almost without realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new cultural, historical, and geographical information—and so will you!
This week’s state-of-the-week is Maine, so we’re going to pay a virtual visit to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, Maine, the boyhood home of great nineteenth-century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Here are the Maine Historical Society’s webpages on the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, with photos, historical background, and much more:
- WADSWORTH-LONGFELLOW HOUSE, Maine Historical Society, Portland, Maine (hwlongfellow.org/house_wlh_overview.shtml).
In the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, the Maine Historical Society tells us,
lived four generations of one remarkable family that made significant contributions to the political, literary, and cultural life of New England and the United States. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882), grew up in the house and went on to become one of the most famous men of his time.
General Peleg Wadsworth, built the house in 1785–1786, and the last person to live there was Anne Longfellow Pierce, Henry’s younger sister…. Virtually all of the household items and artifacts are original to the Wadsworth and Longfellow families.
Furnishings from the four generations illustrate changes in style, technology, and attitude over the 18th and 19th centuries. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House is also an important architectural artifact of New England’s past. Originally a two-story structure with a pitched roof, it was the first wholly brick dwelling in Portland.
Peleg and Elizabeth Wadsworth raised ten children in the house before retiring to the family farm in Hiram, Maine, in 1807.
Zilpah and Stephen Longfellow (Henry’s parents) added a third story in 1815. The only single-family residence to survive downtown Congress Street’s change from a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood on the edge of town to an urban business district, it is the oldest standing structure on the Portland peninsula.
What museum or historical monument has your homeschool visited lately?
¶ Explore more: Your River Houses almanac (riverhouses.org/books) has a list of U.S. national historic sites and monuments on pages 425–432 and a list of notable U.S. museums on pages 247–248. The sidebar on the River Houses website (riverhouses.org) has links to the comprehensive America’s Parks website (americasparks.com), which also includes national historic sites, historic parks, landmarks, and memorials.