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Home: The Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Portland

Researching Your Home

Every House has a History

Every building has a history. For many people, exploring the history of their home provides a personal and direct connection to the past.

Resources to help document and reveal aspects of a building's history include the building fabric and physical features found on the property, paper records found in libraries and government offices, neighbors and others who knew prior occupants, and online resources such as census lists and photographs.

The Wadsworth-Longfellow house is unusual – it is richly supported by extensive records gathered by family members and placed in museum and library collections.

As early as 1850 the house was recognized as a historic site. Over the years many people have described the house and left a record of their experiences.

The materials documenting the Longfellow house provide examples of the type of information available.

335 Congress Street, Portland, 1924
335 Congress Street, Portland, 1924

Item Contributed by
City of Portland - Planning & Development

We invite you to explore the history of your home and neighborhood, to deepen your connection to the people who built your community, and to discover new ways to understand the past.

Do you live in Portland? Was your house built before 1924? If so, you can learn about the history of your house through the 1924 Portland Tax Assessor records, which are online. The records give details about the structure, its size, numbers of rooms, bathrooms, etc., as well as a photograph, and, often, other details. Get started here

Do you live in Bridgton?
Was your house built before 1938? If so, you may be able to learn more about it through tax assessor records that the Bridgton Historical Society is digitizing and putting on Maine Memory Network. This is an ongoing project. You can also contact the Bridgton Historical Society. Search here for records that have been digitized

Sanborn Fire Map, Portland, 1877
Sanborn Fire Map, Portland, 1877

Other towns have similar records. Check your town office or local historical society.

Deeds are another source of information about your house, including the size of the lot, boundaries, and past owners. Check your county's Registry of Deeds office. Some counties have digitized records, which can be found on an online, searchable database. Check the county's Registry of Deeds website for more information.

Sanborn Map & Publishing Co. printed books of locations and shapes of each block in many urban communities from 1867 to 1907. You can access them at many libraries, including the Brown Research Library at Maine Historical Society, and can find some online at the Library of Congress.

City Directories also are valuable resources. For many years, the directories list all occupants of a particular address, often list occupations, and can help verify -- through the "reverse" directories organized by street address -- who lived in particular neighborhoods. These are available at many libraries and historical societies.