Friday, May 30, 2008

Longfellow House - Cambridge, Mass.

Longfellow House
105 Brattle St.
Cambridge, Mass. 02138

The Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House was built in 1759 by John Vassall, a wealthy planter and a Loyalist. Like many of his neighbors on Brattle St. he left Cambridge for Boston in 1774 as the politics of the day forced him to choose sides. His home was then confiscated by Provincial/Revolutionary authorities.

General George Washington began using the Vassall house as his headquarters after arriving in Cambridge and assuming command of the Continental Army in 1775. He resided here from July, 1775 to April of 1776 and it was from here that he planned and led the siege of Boston. When the British Navy finally sailed out of Boston (along with approximately 1100 Loyalists) the war then moved on to New York and General Washington went south.

After the war Andrew Craigie, who was the Apothecary General of the Continental Army, purchased the Vassall home and lived here from 1791. Craigie was a wealthy real estate speculator and made a lot of improvements to the property. It was Craigie who added on the wings to the home and added an addition onto the back. Craigie lost his fortune and after that the house fell on bad times, eventually being broken up into rooms for rent.

In 1837 the home was purchased as a wedding gift and it's most famous literary occupant moved in - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow, originally of Portland, Maine, was a Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard College. Living in such an historic home certainly inspired Longfellow and it is reflected in his works. One of his most famous poems is "Paul Revere's Ride", which tells the tale of the events that occurred locally April 18-19 in 1775. Longfellow lived here until his death
in 1882.

The Longfellow House can be found just outside of Harvard Square and is owned and managed by the National Park Service. From June 4 to September house tours are offered @ 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and on the hour from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The grounds are open to the public from dawn to dusk. (The property at one time extended as far as the Charles River).

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