Popular Longfellow Garden at MHS to Reopen
May 27, 2009
Maine Historical Society is pleased to announce the reopening of its popular Longfellow Garden on June 15, 2009. Located behind the Longfellow House at 489 Congress St., Portland, the garden has been closed for the past two seasons to accommodate the recently completed renovation and expansion of the adjacent MHS Library. A favorite respite for visitors and locals alike, the garden will be open daily through October 2009.
Located on what had once been the domestic farmyard for the Wadsworth Longfellow family, the Longfellow Garden Club created the garden in 1926 - a Colonial Revival design by landscape architect Myron Lamb following the lead of the library’s designer, Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, nephew of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When the garden was dismantled in the spring of 2007, one tree was determined to be original – a lilac that was believed to date back to Anne Longfellow Pierce, Longfellow’s sister, who donated the Longfellow House to Maine Historical Society in 1901. O’Donal's Nursery Garden Center in Gorham kept that tree for the past two years, which has now been replanted.
Following preservation standards and Lamb’s detailed drawings, MHS worked closely with key groups—the Longfellow Garden Club, landscape and preservation architects, and the City of Portland’s Historic Review Committee—to create a rehabilitation plan, permitting the character and the historic significance of the garden to be preserved, while allowing for alterations to accommodate changes in use. Now most of the plantings replicate Lamb’s original sketches: wisteria, salvia, ferns, hostas, day lilies, viburnum, and kerria, as well as lilac, hawthorn, birch and elm trees. Several could no longer be used because they are endangered, illegal or invasive. Antique wrought-iron furniture has been restored and placed in the garden, and plans are underway to recreate the Children’s Gate at the garden entrance.
Since its founding in 1924, the Longfellow Garden Club continues to maintain and support the Longfellow Garden. Members will be available in the garden throughout the day on Saturday, June 27, from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm as part of the MHS Library’s Grand Opening Celebration. That event is free and open to the public.
Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture of Freeport provided landscape architecture services. Coastal Landscaping of York completed the plantings and landscaping. Irrigation Systems of Yarmouth donated and installed the irrigation system. Consigli Construction Company of Portland provided construction management.
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