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Home: The Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Portland

Streetscape, 1790-1930

In 1790:

The Reuben Morton house, at left (northeast corner of Brown and Congress streets), is a two-story, wood-frame residence that was built in about 1760. It had a gable roof and possibly had a center chimney. The house was moved about 1826 to 39 Brown Street, around the corner. and a third story was added.

To the right is the brick house Peleg Wadsworth built in 1785-1786. It is two stories with a gable roof and has double chimneys at each end. Attached to the house is a two-story "store" that Peleg Wadsworth built in 1785. The gable end faces the street. The store still stood in 1805, but was removed by 1814.

In 1830:

By 1830, the Morton house, to the left (west) of the Wadsworth-Longfellow house, was gone, moved around the corner onto Brown Street. In its place was the Morton Block, built in 1826. It probably was two stories with a gable roof. The block consisted of five bays of commercial space, each with two windows over the storefront below.

The Wadsworth-Longfellow house was repaired and expanded after a fire in 1814. A third story was added with a hipped roof and five windows, matching the second floor. Peleg Wadsworth's store that had stood to the right of the house was gone. The Longfellows added a barn in 1785 and a woodhouse. The barn was a wood-frame structure with no chimney, one opening at the attic level, and a walk-in door and a double door on the first floor.

Also visible in 1830 is the Preble house, built in 1810. The Congress Street facade had five bays. The first and second stories were of similar height, while the third floor was about half the height of the others. The brick house had a hipped roof, hidden by a parapet around the roof perimeter, single chimneys at each end, and chimneys along the back wall. The entrance was on Preble Street; the back of the home faced the side of the Wadsworth-Longfellow house.

In 1870:

By 1870, the buildings on each side of the Wadsworth-Longfellow house had grown.

The Morton Block was remodeled in 1866, with a third story, a Mansard roof and fancy ironwork, stone ornamentation and slate roofing added. The first two floored remained the same.

The Longfellow barn had caught fire in 1852. Alexander W. Longfellow disassembled it and moved it to Highfield, his home at 14 Highland Street.

The Preble home, to the east of the Wadsworth-Longfellow house, was demolished in 1858 to make way for the Preble House hotel. The new four-story building had a Mansard roof, which originally included decorative windows, stone ornamentation, and a slate finish. The first floor was taller than the upper three floors and included storefronts. The front of the buildinghad three bays on the west end, five in the center, and four on the east end that faced Preble Street.

In 1930:

The Morton Block was relatively unchanged by 1930, although dramatically altered in 1949. It still stands, but is nearly unrecognizable compared to its 1930 form.

The Wadsworth-Longfellow house had become a historical house museum in 1901 following the death of Anne Longfellow Pierce. While the house itself did not change, the site did -- with the addition in 1907 of the Maine Historical Society headquarters. Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr. designed the two-story brick building with a simple hipped roof. There is one chimney along the west wall. The building stands far back from the street at the right rear of the house.

All but the three bays of the east portion of the Preble House were demolished in 1924 to make way for the Chapman Building, which was designed by Herbert W. Rhodes. It began as a 12-story "modern" office building. Finished in sandstone, the first three floors have elongated window openings flanked by columns, while the upper floors are plain.

The center section has three double-window bays, flanked on either side by two bays. The eastern portion incorporated the Preble Hotel bays, an effort to not dwarf the Wadsworth-Longfellow house and MHS building. Two stories were added to the Chapman -- or Time and Temperature -- building at a later date.