This historic home and National Historic Site located in Cambridge, Massachusetts was once the home of poet American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and later the headquarters for George Washington during the Siege of Boston, which began in the spring of 1775.
The original home was built in 1759 and occupied by Loyalist John Vassall, his wife, and over the years, their eight children. The Vassalls lived in their home for 15 years, until 1774 when houses along Tory row were attacked by Patriots and the family fled. The empty home was seized for use of headquarters by George Washington. From this house, Washington organized a network of spies to stay ahead of British plans, which was the first American intelligence plan.
After the Revolutionary War, the home was purchased by Andrew Craigie, who served as the Apothecary General for the Continental Army. While living in the home, Craigie married and spent more money than he had restoring the home. When he died in 1819, his wife took in boarders because of the debt that she was left with. One of these boarders was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who moved into the home in 1837.
Mrs. Craigie died in 1841 and the owners of the home changed a couple of times in the years that followed. It was first purchased by Joseph Emerson Worcester from her heirs, and Longfellow continued to live in the house. Two years later, Nathan Appleton purchased the home and gave it to Longfellow as a gift when he married Appleton’s daughter Frances. Longfellow lived in the home for the next 40 years and often wrote in the study of the first floor, which was the same room that Washington used as his office. Notable authors, such as Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne were visitors o the home. Longfellow and his wife raised their five children in the home and lived the rest of their lives there. The house was the site of the first use of anesthesia for childbirth, which was administered to Longfellow’s wife, Fanny. Fanny died in 1861 after her dress caught on fire, and Longfellow died in 1882.
In 1913, the surviving Longfellow children took action to establish the Longfellow House Trust in order to preserve the history and memorialize their father and George Washington’s use of the home. In 1972, the Trust donated the property to the National Park Service.
Today, the home is open to the public to visit from late until early October for free. Make sure to visit the website for hours and updates.