Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters
National Historic Site Massachusetts

Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site at 50 Years

logo in shape of badge with yellow background, line drawing of house flanked by trees and above large 50

Find your inspiration at 105 Brattle Street! Join us in a fresh exploration of American history through the arts, scholarship, stewardship, and community.

October 9, 2022 marks 50 years since the establishment of Longfellow National Historic Site. To mark half a century, we’ll celebrate past achievements and introduce new ways to find meaning and care for this nationally significant site. Please check this page regularly for updates and special 50th anniversary offerings!

 
Black and white photograph of large mansion with symmetrical facade, two and a half stories, with porches at sides and low railing along front. Black and white photograph of large mansion with symmetrical facade, two and a half stories, with porches at sides and low railing along front.

Left image
NPS staff documented the house on February 10, 1972 to support the proposed establishment at a Congressional hearing.
Credit: NPS Photo / Orville W. Carroll

Right image
Credit: NPS Photo / James Jones | Photography RI

 

“The Past and Present here unite.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published these words, which open the second verse of “A Gleam of Sunshine,” in 1866.

Envision the poet writing from his Georgian home, just outside of Harvard Square. Longfellow knew the history of his house, built in 1759 for both free and enslaved members of the Vassall families before General Washington occupied it as his first headquarters of the American Revolutionary War. The historic home inspired and influenced Longfellow, as he penned tales that drew upon the very history and life that surrounded him.

Yet, Longfellow never could have known that his words – The Past and Present here unite – would ring true in his home long after his lifetime.

With great foresight, Longfellow’s children established a trust, which preserved their family home as a memorial to Washington and Longfellow. The trust transferred the property to the U.S. National Park Service in the 1970s. In the 50 years since, dedicated community partners, scholars, and staff researched, preserved, and interpreted the site. Their work transformed the site from a private home into the vibrant public gathering place that it is today.

Now, we have the honor of writing the next verse together, as we now mark the 50th anniversary of Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site as a unit of the National Park System.

Over the next year, we’ll celebrate the many achievements that have shaped the site into a dynamic community resource, tourist destination, and center for scholarship. We’ll also continue to peel back the layers of history for an even deeper understanding of 105 Brattle Street’s place in Cambridge history, in U.S. history, and in world history. And we’ll work to make the Longfellow House more welcoming and accessible to all.

Please join us in 2022-23 as we explore Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters anew through the arts, scholarship, stewardship, and community!

 

Join the Celebration

  • Ranger talks to camera in front of fireplace and gold folding screen

    Stories

    In a new video series, Ranger Anna, Ranger Kate, and Archivist Kate dive into the major and undertold stories from 105 Brattle Street.

  • Manuscript letter, entire page covered with writing

    NPGallery Digital Archives Portal

    Explore digitized material from the photographic and manuscript collections.

  • collage of six color and black-and-white photographs with yellow badge at center with house and 50

    50 Years in Photographs

    Highlights of the Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters NHS's first 50 years as a National Historic Site, 1972-2022!

  • crowd seated on chairs and blankets on lawn to watch concert

    Summer Festival

    Celebrate poetry, art, and music at the annual Longfellow Summer Festival.

  • logo of white house outline on green with large L-W

    Friendship Begins Here

    Meet the Friends of Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters and their work to celebrate the site at 50 years.

  • logo of 200 with 0s making trees on hill, tagline Olmsted 200 Celebrating Parks for All People

    Olmsted 200

    Our colleagues at Frederick Law Olmsted NHS also celebrate the bicentennial of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. this year!

 

Celebrate All Year LONG

Join in the celebration, both onsite and online!

Behind the scenes, we’re also working to:

  • Revise offerings for elementary school students and teachers
  • Develop a Special History Study about the Black history of the site
  • Launch a new research fellowship focused on the site's fine art collection
  • Produce a new site film
  • Conserve and rehouse 15th century Nuremberg Chronicle leaves collected by Henry Longfellow
  • Replace deteriorated 1980s floor coverings throughout the main house
  • Repair porches and balustrades on the main house
  • Replace the main house and carriage house roofs, and improve water shedding systems
  • Develop new community partnerships
 

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Last updated: March 24, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

105 Brattle Street
Cambridge , MA 02138

Phone:

(617) 876-4491

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