Maine Historical Society



Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland

June 27, 2014 - January 8, 2016

image of exhibit banner

Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland used the Wadsworth-Longfellow House as a prism to explore how Portland has grown and changed over more than 230 years. When Peleg Wadsworth built the House on Back Street in 1785, it was on the rural outskirts of Portland. By the early 1800s, the House was at the center of a bustling, modern New England city. Since then, Portland has boomed, burned, boomed again, busted, and reemerged as a vibrant, forward-looking city. Through it all, the Wadsworth-Longfellow House has been a constant, and witness to the life of an emerging community.

The exhibition featured family belongings that tell the personal and yet universal story of how people live in their homes—including ways of heating, cooking, and plumbing—and how those functions evolved within Portland. The stories of the Wadsworth and Longfellow families and an ever-changing cast of neighbors on their block—families, hotels, businesses, tenements, etc.—help explain how Portland has become the beloved, livable city we know today.

Exhibition Poster

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With gratitude to our sponsors:

Your Home, Past & Present
We asked the public to participate in our exhibition and share their images with us!

Visitors sent in photos of what their home looked like in the past and how it appears today. This slideshow reflects select images that were submitted.