2014: It’s All History Now (Part 4 of 7)
The Wadsworth-Longfellow House stayed busy this year, as it’s always a highlight of visitors to Portland and our campus. We offered House tours May 1 through December 28 and our friendly and knowledgable guides and docents gave tours to visitors of all ages from around the world.
For the 2014 season, interpretation at the Longfellow House was revamped to tie in with our exhibition, Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland, which explores the development of the city through the lens of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood home, connecting the evolution of the house to the development of the city around it.
New topics of discussion included more attention to the House’s interpretation of how fire affected the building and family, both as a dangerous element and as a source of heat; and water, including how it was accessed, and the role it played in changing understandings of health.
Holiday Season at the House
Back by popular demand was the Longfellow’s Haunted House tours this Halloween, and for the second year in a row all tours sold out! We look forward to bringing this event back in 2015.
In November and December, the House remained open for holiday tours right through Christmas. This year’s theme celebrated the friendship between Henry Longfellow and Charles Dickens, a friendship gone uncovered in recent history. During our holiday season at MHS, the House’s tour included stories of the two literary greats, their musings with one another as well as their influences in each other’s lives and writing, including Dicken’s holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.
On the tour, guests could also see a mini-exhibit, Affectionately Yours, Charles Dickens, that featured an original letter written by Dickens to Longfellow in 1842.
Throughout the month of December the House also hosted additional holiday events including music on the 1843 Chickering Piano in the parlor, played by renowned pianist Dr. David Maxwell. On the House lawn we welcomed back Master Blacksmith, Sam Smith who held blacksmith demonstrations for visitors. During the December First Friday Art Walk guests were serenaded into the holiday spirit with carolers from Deering High School.
Also this year, we hosted another successful Portland Docent History program that resulted in five new docents for the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and walking trails. Are you interested in becoming a docent? Contact us about our 2015 program or click here for more information.
The Longfellow Garden
This year marked the Longfellow Garden Club’s 90th anniversary. Over this period the garden has evolved in response to changes on the MHS campus and in the city. In the 1930s, tenements along the property line were removed and replaced by a brick wall and parking areas. Also, nearby buildings have reached new heights and reduced the amount of light that falls in the garden. The research library was expanded in 1951 and in 2007, and each time the garden was reconfigured and subsequently replanted.
All of us at MHS are grateful to the members of the Longfellow Garden Club for their dedication to this lovely and important garden. Without the hard work of this dedicated group, it is difficult to imagine what sort of a landscape would be found behind the house.
Images: (Left) LCG members Imelda Shaeffer and Sylvia Sowles, Summer 2014. (Right) LGC Members in the garden, 1951.