Blue Entry

Two men seated in front of a large window, surrounded by statuary. Sofa in front of window at end of hall, surrounded by statuary.
Harry Dana and unknown man in Blue Entry, circa 1940. Buildings and Grounds Collection (3008-2-6-3)
Blue Entry, 2017. NPS Photo

The "Blue Entry" is the back of the formal, public first floor of the house. The hallway passage connects many of the rooms on the first floor: doors open onto the back piazza, the library, the back stair hall, the dining room, the west porch, and the ell hall connecting to the kitchen and pantry. Part of the 1790s addition, it has undergone significant architectural changes over the years of occupancy in the house.




 
White-painted relief of man in profile with laurel wreath, bow at neck, and drapery across panel

NPS Photo

Castle Craigie

After purchasing the house in 1791, Andrew Craigie made significant alterations, transforming the already grand house into an enormous mansion. The elegant hallway connected the new primary carriage entrance on the west side to the expanded library on the east side of the house. The hallway was decorated with paneling, dentil molding, and Federal-style plaster images, including a profile portrait of a man above the library door.

 
Floor to ceiling bookcase flanked by a marble bust of angel with flowers and plaster bust of Henry Longfellow
The massive bookcase contains French literature, including Elizabeth Craigie's Voltaire. It is flanked by busts of Sandalphon by Florence Freeman and Henry Longfellow by Kitson.

NPS Photo

Art and Literature

The Longfellows used the room as a long gallery in addition to a passageway, filling it with busts and artwork.

Three large bookcases house literature in Spanish, Italian, and French - including the seventy-five volume set of Voltaire which Longfellow bought at the sale of his landlady's Elizabeth Craigie’s books in 1841.

The Longfellows’ appreciation for European and Classical art is represented in a group of plaster casts on pedestals at the west end of the hallway, copies of marble sculptures in museum collections. The massive Jupiter of Otricoli - which Fanny Longfellow called "the grand Jove" - arrived in 1845, simulating the original in the Vatican Museum. Clytie is a painted plaster cast after the marble original in the British Museum. The bust of Venus of Medici is a painted plaster cast acquired by Alice Longfellow.

The east end holds three busts of Henry Longfellow, as sculpted by Edward Brackett in 1844, Benjamin Paul Akers in 1851, and Samuel J. Kitson in 1879. Two Appleton family busts flank the library door: Fanny Longfellow's father Nathan Appleton by Richard James Wyatt in Rome, 1836, and her uncle Samuel Appleton by Benjamin Paul Akers in 1851. The last bust on this end of the hall, a marble bust of the angel Sandalphon by Florence Freeman, was a gift from Tom Appleton and a group of admirers of Henry Longfellow.

 
Wide, white paneled door with screen insert, narrow glass-fronted china cabinet
First floor door to historic elevator

NPS Photo

Architectural Adaptation

In the mid-nineteenth century, Henry Longfellow divided the space into two rooms when he converted the west end door to a window.

In the early twentieth century, the hallway was altered again to accommodate the installation of a hydraulic elevator. In her mid-fifties, Alice Longfellow suffered from arthritis and sometimes used a wheelchair. Though it was a significant architectural intrusion, the elevator allowed her to use both floors of the house. The space required for the elevator was sensitively designed by Alice's architect cousin, Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr., who incorporated a small china display cabinet into the space as well.

Last updated: February 26, 2018

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